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Don't Feed Your Kids These 10 Typical but Unhealthy Breakfast Foods Slideshow

Don't Feed Your Kids These 10 Typical but Unhealthy Breakfast Foods Slideshow



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There are easy, satisfying alternatives to these common morning choices

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A bagel scores very high on the glycemic index, meaning that the carbohydrates in a bagel are converted quickly into glucose and this results in a spike of blood sugar levels. Too much glucose in your bloodstream can lead to weight gain and Type 2 diabetes. Bagels are also usually topped with a rich layer of cream cheese, which only adds more unnecessary saturated fat. An English muffin topped with peanut butter is a much better alternative.

Bagels

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A bagel scores very high on the glycemic index, meaning that the carbohydrates in a bagel are converted quickly into glucose and this results in a spike of blood sugar levels. An English muffin topped with peanut butter is a much better alternative.

Breakfast Sandwiches

The breakfast sandwich seems like an unassuming, all-in-one morning meal, complete with bread, eggs, cheese, and meat, but it’s far from the best way to start your morning. The sandwiches don’t contain a lot of fiber and are heavy in salt, fat, and calories. Even though they’re convenient, try just scrambling an egg at home and slapping it on a slice of whole-wheat toast instead. This little alteration can save your child hundreds of calories.

Croissants

Even when they’re absent of chocolate, a croissant is more dessert than breakfast. The croissant gets its signature flaky nature from a high butter to flour ratio. All this butter makes the croissant very high in saturated fat.

Doughnuts

Eating one doughnut a day for a week can add an extra 1,500–2,000 calories, which translates to about an extra pound of fat to the body. Doughnuts are not a good choice for a child’s breakfast because they are filled with sugar and contain no fiber.

Frozen Pork Sausage Patties

Frozen pork sausage patties require more additives than unprocessed meat in order to preserve their texture, shape, and freshness when reheated. Additionally, processed red meats have been found to pose a higher risk of cancer when cooked at high heats. Try skipping the pork and instead go for a chicken sausage, which is lower in calories and saturated fat.

Hash Browns

Hash browns are basically breakfast French fries. Often deep-fried, they are loaded with oil and can contain traces of dangerous trans fats. Home fries are a better option if potatoes are a must because, despite their name, they’re not submerged in oil.

Pancakes

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Pancakes are another breakfast staple that seem harmless but provide no nutritional value. The batter is made of refined carbohydrates, and it offers very little in the form of protein or fiber. Most pancakes are topped with a maple-flavored topping that doesn’t actually contain any maple at all — it’s predominately corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup. To provide your child with a sweet breakfast snack, instead offer French toast made with whole-grain bread ; the egg batter and whole grains provide a more nutritionally sound breakfast.

Sugary Cereal

Cereal used to be a common breakfast staple, but then doctors, dentists, nutritionists, and most importantly, parents all realized that frosted cereals contain as much sugar as a candy bar. Stick with lightly sweetened cereals like Cheerios, Special K, or Kashi.

Sweetened Yogurt

Many brands of yogurt include added sugars, making this breakfast staple deceivingly unhealthy. Instead, try mixing a cup of Greek yogurt with a spoonful of both peanut butter and jelly or add a bit of honey. This minimizes the added sugar while also taming the yogurt's tang.

Toaster Pastries

Toaster pastries are warm, sweet, and gooey, but they are made almost entirely of refined flour and sugar. A warm piece of whole-wheat toast with a spread of jelly or preserves is a healthier alternative that tastes just as good.


15 Worst Things In Your Lunch Bag

The healthiest lunch you can eat is the one you make for yourself. It'll also save you a bundle over restaurant food, and the landfills will thank you for leaving all the disposable wrappers, bowls, and packaging behind. The problem? The food industry has convinced us that we can't make our own lunches without a whole bunch of "convenience" foods that are expensive and wasteful at best and, at worst, are full of unhealthy food additives and chemicals. Luckily, whether it's for yourself or your children, you can still pack tasty, wholesome lunches the old-fashioned way&mdashfrom scratch&mdashin just a few minutes a day (for 200 delicious, family-friendly recipes everyone will love, you have to check out the new cookbook Scratch from Maria Rodale).

Here are 15 things to avoid, and what to pack instead.

Brightly colored and patterned plastic lunch bags and boxes may appeal to kids, but they often contain high levels of lead and other toxins and can be nearly impossible to clean (been there and tried that&mdashyuck!).

Better: Choose a reusable, washable lunch sack made from either cotton or nylon, and toss it in the machine every weekend. Pack a small cloth napkin and reusable silverware, and you 're ready to dine in style.

If you don't have access to a refrigerator at work or school, frozen ice packs inside a vinyl-free insulated bag might help keep perishables cold, but test it out first (here's how long your groceries can safely sit in a hot car). Pack a jar of cold water in the bag along with the ice pack, seal it, and let it sit at room temperature for however many hours it will sit out between packing it and lunchtime. Then open the bag and take the water's temperature. If the water is warmer than about 45 degrees, test again with two frozen ice packs, or just plan on packing only room-temperature-safe foods.

The average lunch contains a staggering amount of single-use plastic packaging. And reusable plastic containers, inexpensive and unbreakable though they may be, may contain hormone-disrupting chemicals like phthalates and BPA that you'd rather not rub against your food (here's how to tell if BPA is in your food).

Better: Stock up on 4- and 8-ounce mason jelly jars! They cost only a few cents more than similar-size plastic containers (yet they last much longer) and are perfect for packing anything from applesauce to cubes of zucchini bread (we love these adorable reusable jars from Rodale's). They are as close to unbreakable as glass can get and use any standard canning lid&mdashno more hunting through your cabinets for the right top.

Stainless steel containers are another good and long-lasting alternative. Replace your zip-top bags with reusable versions that you can find on sites like ReUseIt.com, and fill those with dry snacks like nuts, crackers, grapes, and other grab-and-go lunchbox fillers. You'll saves lots of plastic packaging (and money) compared to prepackaged single servings. Add a nice reusable water bottle and perhaps a stainless thermos container for hot items, and you've got what it takes to start packing.

Trust the food industry to turn the humble sandwich into a processed food. Premade sandwich-like products are loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, preservatives, and other additives, but are short on real food. And most of the time, they cost more than their easy-to-make counterparts.



Better: It really isn't that difficult to make your own sandwiches, and you can even make your own (and freeze ahead of time) "Uncrustables" sans nasty additives. Nut butters, chopped cooked meats, canned salmon, and grated cheese are all good freezable sandwich ingredients, according to the University of Nebraska Extension Service (or whip up one of these 16 freezer-ready recipes).

Freeze your assembled sandwiches for about an hour before transferring them to a freezer-safe container, but add condiments and toppings like lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles the day you eat it, since those can get limp and soggy in the freezer. To make a freezable PB&J, spread a little butter on the jelly side of your sandwich first to prevent the jam from soaking in and making your bread soggy.

Don't get us started on overpriced, over-packaged lunch fodder packed in plastic trays containing a few tidbits of this and that, most of it loaded with salt and preservatives. We even saw one shaped like Mickey Mouse the last time we were in the supermarket. Argh!



Better: Pack similar, healthier ingredients in small containers. Do a bunch at once and keep them on hand for quick packing, and let the eaters pick their own combos every evening or morning. Typical choices like cheese cubes or shreds, salsa or pizza sauce, whole-grain crackers, cut-up veggies and fruits, and real cooked meats are great, but the possibilities are endless. Take a cue from the Japanese and assemble your selections in a bento box. (You can buy these 6 lunches anywhere for $6 or less.)

Processed lunch meats tend to be high in sodium, nitrates, fats, and fat-soluble pesticides.



Better: You can save a bundle on lunch meant by spending a little time over the weekend roasting a chicken or a larger cut of beef. Shred it or slice it thin for easy sandwich-fixings. Or, for a fast, no-cook alternative, buy canned fish (just avoid these 4 kinds). Salmon is a great low-mercury swap for tuna, and sardines pack a mighty omega-3 punch.

Most crackers are made from refined flour, unhealthy fats, sugar, and artificial flavorings.



Better: Select crackers that list whole grain flours as the first ingredient or try making your own (this recipe will get you started). It's easy, and for the price of a single box of crackers, you can buy a bag of flour that would make four to five boxes worth.

These are two healthy-sounding snacks that the food industry has turned into something closer to candy bars than to real food.



Better: Look for bars that contain at least 2 grams of fiber and less than 10 grams of sugar, or save money and make your own no-bake energy bars.

Packaged pudding and gelatin are two more once-healthy foods that have been gussied up with too much sugar plus additives to make them keep indefinitely. They're also packaged in throwaway containers and come with fancy price tags.



Better: Make real pudding from organic milk and flavorings, or try other traditional cooked puddings and pour them into small jars to grab when you need them. You can make flavored Jello-style desserts by dissolving 1 packet of unflavored gelatin (or 1 teaspoon of agar powder if you're vegetarian) in one cup of warmed fruit juice and adding one cup of cold juice to make a total of 2 cups. (Use 2 packets of gelatin to make jiggly shapes.) Add bits of fresh fruit if you'd like, pour into small containers, and chill until set.

Often the only fruit in fruit rolls and "snacks" are in the picture on the package, and most such products contain lots of high-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors.



Better: Pack fresh whole fruit, fruit slices, dried fruit, or homemade fruit leather.

Rich in high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, white flour, and preservatives to keep them "fresh," these items are guaranteed to send the eater into sugar shock, destined to drop into a semi-stupor a few hours later (when checking labels, steer clear of these 10 sneaky names for sugar).



Better: Pack dried fruits or fruit and nut bars as sweet lunch treats. For occasional treats, buy boxes of organic cookies and pack 100 calories' worth (often about three cookies) in small containers, or make your own baked treats and package small servings of them.

Yogurt is a great food, except after the food industry gets hold of it and adds excessive amounts of sweeteners, colors, and artificial flavors.



Better: Buy plain or lightly sweetened organic yogurt by the quart and pack it in small containers with fresh fruit, chopped dry fruit, or a little fruit spread. (Just be sure to avoid these 6 worst yogurt add-ins.)

Easy and healthy-sounding, these plastic-swathed six-packs of cracker sandwiches are cheap for a reason: They contain little real food and lots of hidden sugars, fats, and preservatives (and fake cheese isn't even one of these 7 grossest foods you're eating without realizing it).



Better: Make your own cracker sandwiches with whole-grain crackers and organic nut or seed butter, soft cheese, or your own cheese spread. Make cheddar spread by blending 8 ounces of grated sharp cheddar with 4 tablespoons of softened organic butter. Make a bunch of cracker sandwiches and store them in the fridge, grabbing a few to pack in your lunch every day.

Potato chips, corn chips, cheese puffs, and the like are high in salt, fats, and calories. Even pretzels made from refined white flour are a less-than-optimal snack choice.



Better: For a little salty crunch, pack a few ounces of lightly salted nuts, homemade lightly seasoned bagel or baked corn chips, real veggie chips (here are 5 easy, delicious ways to make your own veggie chips), or whip up a batch of kale chips.

Most bottled waters are nothing more than tap water packaged in throwaway plastic, but priced 1,900 times higher than tap, according to the Environmental Working Group.



Better: Invest in a reusable water bottle, and you'll pay off your investment after about two months, depending on the brand of bottled water you buy and how much you drink. (Our friends at Bicycling.com have this cool vintage-looking set of two reusable bottles that are BPA-free.)

Sweetened beverages are a huge source of hidden calories, and those sweetened with artificial sweeteners have downsides as well (Need proof? Here are 8 things that happen to your body when you finally stop drinking diet soda.). Plus, many beverages are loaded with artificial colors and flavors and come in throwaway single-serve containers.



Better: If you want the taste and nutrition of fruit, eat fruit! It's full of fiber and won't make your blood sugar spike. To quench your thirst and keep yourself hydrated when you don't have access to good tap water during the day, pack plain water, tea, or coffee in a reusable bottle (keep your H20 interesting with these 25 slimming sassy water recipes).


15 Worst Things In Your Lunch Bag

The healthiest lunch you can eat is the one you make for yourself. It'll also save you a bundle over restaurant food, and the landfills will thank you for leaving all the disposable wrappers, bowls, and packaging behind. The problem? The food industry has convinced us that we can't make our own lunches without a whole bunch of "convenience" foods that are expensive and wasteful at best and, at worst, are full of unhealthy food additives and chemicals. Luckily, whether it's for yourself or your children, you can still pack tasty, wholesome lunches the old-fashioned way&mdashfrom scratch&mdashin just a few minutes a day (for 200 delicious, family-friendly recipes everyone will love, you have to check out the new cookbook Scratch from Maria Rodale).

Here are 15 things to avoid, and what to pack instead.

Brightly colored and patterned plastic lunch bags and boxes may appeal to kids, but they often contain high levels of lead and other toxins and can be nearly impossible to clean (been there and tried that&mdashyuck!).

Better: Choose a reusable, washable lunch sack made from either cotton or nylon, and toss it in the machine every weekend. Pack a small cloth napkin and reusable silverware, and you 're ready to dine in style.

If you don't have access to a refrigerator at work or school, frozen ice packs inside a vinyl-free insulated bag might help keep perishables cold, but test it out first (here's how long your groceries can safely sit in a hot car). Pack a jar of cold water in the bag along with the ice pack, seal it, and let it sit at room temperature for however many hours it will sit out between packing it and lunchtime. Then open the bag and take the water's temperature. If the water is warmer than about 45 degrees, test again with two frozen ice packs, or just plan on packing only room-temperature-safe foods.

The average lunch contains a staggering amount of single-use plastic packaging. And reusable plastic containers, inexpensive and unbreakable though they may be, may contain hormone-disrupting chemicals like phthalates and BPA that you'd rather not rub against your food (here's how to tell if BPA is in your food).

Better: Stock up on 4- and 8-ounce mason jelly jars! They cost only a few cents more than similar-size plastic containers (yet they last much longer) and are perfect for packing anything from applesauce to cubes of zucchini bread (we love these adorable reusable jars from Rodale's). They are as close to unbreakable as glass can get and use any standard canning lid&mdashno more hunting through your cabinets for the right top.

Stainless steel containers are another good and long-lasting alternative. Replace your zip-top bags with reusable versions that you can find on sites like ReUseIt.com, and fill those with dry snacks like nuts, crackers, grapes, and other grab-and-go lunchbox fillers. You'll saves lots of plastic packaging (and money) compared to prepackaged single servings. Add a nice reusable water bottle and perhaps a stainless thermos container for hot items, and you've got what it takes to start packing.

Trust the food industry to turn the humble sandwich into a processed food. Premade sandwich-like products are loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, preservatives, and other additives, but are short on real food. And most of the time, they cost more than their easy-to-make counterparts.



Better: It really isn't that difficult to make your own sandwiches, and you can even make your own (and freeze ahead of time) "Uncrustables" sans nasty additives. Nut butters, chopped cooked meats, canned salmon, and grated cheese are all good freezable sandwich ingredients, according to the University of Nebraska Extension Service (or whip up one of these 16 freezer-ready recipes).

Freeze your assembled sandwiches for about an hour before transferring them to a freezer-safe container, but add condiments and toppings like lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles the day you eat it, since those can get limp and soggy in the freezer. To make a freezable PB&J, spread a little butter on the jelly side of your sandwich first to prevent the jam from soaking in and making your bread soggy.

Don't get us started on overpriced, over-packaged lunch fodder packed in plastic trays containing a few tidbits of this and that, most of it loaded with salt and preservatives. We even saw one shaped like Mickey Mouse the last time we were in the supermarket. Argh!



Better: Pack similar, healthier ingredients in small containers. Do a bunch at once and keep them on hand for quick packing, and let the eaters pick their own combos every evening or morning. Typical choices like cheese cubes or shreds, salsa or pizza sauce, whole-grain crackers, cut-up veggies and fruits, and real cooked meats are great, but the possibilities are endless. Take a cue from the Japanese and assemble your selections in a bento box. (You can buy these 6 lunches anywhere for $6 or less.)

Processed lunch meats tend to be high in sodium, nitrates, fats, and fat-soluble pesticides.



Better: You can save a bundle on lunch meant by spending a little time over the weekend roasting a chicken or a larger cut of beef. Shred it or slice it thin for easy sandwich-fixings. Or, for a fast, no-cook alternative, buy canned fish (just avoid these 4 kinds). Salmon is a great low-mercury swap for tuna, and sardines pack a mighty omega-3 punch.

Most crackers are made from refined flour, unhealthy fats, sugar, and artificial flavorings.



Better: Select crackers that list whole grain flours as the first ingredient or try making your own (this recipe will get you started). It's easy, and for the price of a single box of crackers, you can buy a bag of flour that would make four to five boxes worth.

These are two healthy-sounding snacks that the food industry has turned into something closer to candy bars than to real food.



Better: Look for bars that contain at least 2 grams of fiber and less than 10 grams of sugar, or save money and make your own no-bake energy bars.

Packaged pudding and gelatin are two more once-healthy foods that have been gussied up with too much sugar plus additives to make them keep indefinitely. They're also packaged in throwaway containers and come with fancy price tags.



Better: Make real pudding from organic milk and flavorings, or try other traditional cooked puddings and pour them into small jars to grab when you need them. You can make flavored Jello-style desserts by dissolving 1 packet of unflavored gelatin (or 1 teaspoon of agar powder if you're vegetarian) in one cup of warmed fruit juice and adding one cup of cold juice to make a total of 2 cups. (Use 2 packets of gelatin to make jiggly shapes.) Add bits of fresh fruit if you'd like, pour into small containers, and chill until set.

Often the only fruit in fruit rolls and "snacks" are in the picture on the package, and most such products contain lots of high-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors.



Better: Pack fresh whole fruit, fruit slices, dried fruit, or homemade fruit leather.

Rich in high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, white flour, and preservatives to keep them "fresh," these items are guaranteed to send the eater into sugar shock, destined to drop into a semi-stupor a few hours later (when checking labels, steer clear of these 10 sneaky names for sugar).



Better: Pack dried fruits or fruit and nut bars as sweet lunch treats. For occasional treats, buy boxes of organic cookies and pack 100 calories' worth (often about three cookies) in small containers, or make your own baked treats and package small servings of them.

Yogurt is a great food, except after the food industry gets hold of it and adds excessive amounts of sweeteners, colors, and artificial flavors.



Better: Buy plain or lightly sweetened organic yogurt by the quart and pack it in small containers with fresh fruit, chopped dry fruit, or a little fruit spread. (Just be sure to avoid these 6 worst yogurt add-ins.)

Easy and healthy-sounding, these plastic-swathed six-packs of cracker sandwiches are cheap for a reason: They contain little real food and lots of hidden sugars, fats, and preservatives (and fake cheese isn't even one of these 7 grossest foods you're eating without realizing it).



Better: Make your own cracker sandwiches with whole-grain crackers and organic nut or seed butter, soft cheese, or your own cheese spread. Make cheddar spread by blending 8 ounces of grated sharp cheddar with 4 tablespoons of softened organic butter. Make a bunch of cracker sandwiches and store them in the fridge, grabbing a few to pack in your lunch every day.

Potato chips, corn chips, cheese puffs, and the like are high in salt, fats, and calories. Even pretzels made from refined white flour are a less-than-optimal snack choice.



Better: For a little salty crunch, pack a few ounces of lightly salted nuts, homemade lightly seasoned bagel or baked corn chips, real veggie chips (here are 5 easy, delicious ways to make your own veggie chips), or whip up a batch of kale chips.

Most bottled waters are nothing more than tap water packaged in throwaway plastic, but priced 1,900 times higher than tap, according to the Environmental Working Group.



Better: Invest in a reusable water bottle, and you'll pay off your investment after about two months, depending on the brand of bottled water you buy and how much you drink. (Our friends at Bicycling.com have this cool vintage-looking set of two reusable bottles that are BPA-free.)

Sweetened beverages are a huge source of hidden calories, and those sweetened with artificial sweeteners have downsides as well (Need proof? Here are 8 things that happen to your body when you finally stop drinking diet soda.). Plus, many beverages are loaded with artificial colors and flavors and come in throwaway single-serve containers.



Better: If you want the taste and nutrition of fruit, eat fruit! It's full of fiber and won't make your blood sugar spike. To quench your thirst and keep yourself hydrated when you don't have access to good tap water during the day, pack plain water, tea, or coffee in a reusable bottle (keep your H20 interesting with these 25 slimming sassy water recipes).


15 Worst Things In Your Lunch Bag

The healthiest lunch you can eat is the one you make for yourself. It'll also save you a bundle over restaurant food, and the landfills will thank you for leaving all the disposable wrappers, bowls, and packaging behind. The problem? The food industry has convinced us that we can't make our own lunches without a whole bunch of "convenience" foods that are expensive and wasteful at best and, at worst, are full of unhealthy food additives and chemicals. Luckily, whether it's for yourself or your children, you can still pack tasty, wholesome lunches the old-fashioned way&mdashfrom scratch&mdashin just a few minutes a day (for 200 delicious, family-friendly recipes everyone will love, you have to check out the new cookbook Scratch from Maria Rodale).

Here are 15 things to avoid, and what to pack instead.

Brightly colored and patterned plastic lunch bags and boxes may appeal to kids, but they often contain high levels of lead and other toxins and can be nearly impossible to clean (been there and tried that&mdashyuck!).

Better: Choose a reusable, washable lunch sack made from either cotton or nylon, and toss it in the machine every weekend. Pack a small cloth napkin and reusable silverware, and you 're ready to dine in style.

If you don't have access to a refrigerator at work or school, frozen ice packs inside a vinyl-free insulated bag might help keep perishables cold, but test it out first (here's how long your groceries can safely sit in a hot car). Pack a jar of cold water in the bag along with the ice pack, seal it, and let it sit at room temperature for however many hours it will sit out between packing it and lunchtime. Then open the bag and take the water's temperature. If the water is warmer than about 45 degrees, test again with two frozen ice packs, or just plan on packing only room-temperature-safe foods.

The average lunch contains a staggering amount of single-use plastic packaging. And reusable plastic containers, inexpensive and unbreakable though they may be, may contain hormone-disrupting chemicals like phthalates and BPA that you'd rather not rub against your food (here's how to tell if BPA is in your food).

Better: Stock up on 4- and 8-ounce mason jelly jars! They cost only a few cents more than similar-size plastic containers (yet they last much longer) and are perfect for packing anything from applesauce to cubes of zucchini bread (we love these adorable reusable jars from Rodale's). They are as close to unbreakable as glass can get and use any standard canning lid&mdashno more hunting through your cabinets for the right top.

Stainless steel containers are another good and long-lasting alternative. Replace your zip-top bags with reusable versions that you can find on sites like ReUseIt.com, and fill those with dry snacks like nuts, crackers, grapes, and other grab-and-go lunchbox fillers. You'll saves lots of plastic packaging (and money) compared to prepackaged single servings. Add a nice reusable water bottle and perhaps a stainless thermos container for hot items, and you've got what it takes to start packing.

Trust the food industry to turn the humble sandwich into a processed food. Premade sandwich-like products are loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, preservatives, and other additives, but are short on real food. And most of the time, they cost more than their easy-to-make counterparts.



Better: It really isn't that difficult to make your own sandwiches, and you can even make your own (and freeze ahead of time) "Uncrustables" sans nasty additives. Nut butters, chopped cooked meats, canned salmon, and grated cheese are all good freezable sandwich ingredients, according to the University of Nebraska Extension Service (or whip up one of these 16 freezer-ready recipes).

Freeze your assembled sandwiches for about an hour before transferring them to a freezer-safe container, but add condiments and toppings like lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles the day you eat it, since those can get limp and soggy in the freezer. To make a freezable PB&J, spread a little butter on the jelly side of your sandwich first to prevent the jam from soaking in and making your bread soggy.

Don't get us started on overpriced, over-packaged lunch fodder packed in plastic trays containing a few tidbits of this and that, most of it loaded with salt and preservatives. We even saw one shaped like Mickey Mouse the last time we were in the supermarket. Argh!



Better: Pack similar, healthier ingredients in small containers. Do a bunch at once and keep them on hand for quick packing, and let the eaters pick their own combos every evening or morning. Typical choices like cheese cubes or shreds, salsa or pizza sauce, whole-grain crackers, cut-up veggies and fruits, and real cooked meats are great, but the possibilities are endless. Take a cue from the Japanese and assemble your selections in a bento box. (You can buy these 6 lunches anywhere for $6 or less.)

Processed lunch meats tend to be high in sodium, nitrates, fats, and fat-soluble pesticides.



Better: You can save a bundle on lunch meant by spending a little time over the weekend roasting a chicken or a larger cut of beef. Shred it or slice it thin for easy sandwich-fixings. Or, for a fast, no-cook alternative, buy canned fish (just avoid these 4 kinds). Salmon is a great low-mercury swap for tuna, and sardines pack a mighty omega-3 punch.

Most crackers are made from refined flour, unhealthy fats, sugar, and artificial flavorings.



Better: Select crackers that list whole grain flours as the first ingredient or try making your own (this recipe will get you started). It's easy, and for the price of a single box of crackers, you can buy a bag of flour that would make four to five boxes worth.

These are two healthy-sounding snacks that the food industry has turned into something closer to candy bars than to real food.



Better: Look for bars that contain at least 2 grams of fiber and less than 10 grams of sugar, or save money and make your own no-bake energy bars.

Packaged pudding and gelatin are two more once-healthy foods that have been gussied up with too much sugar plus additives to make them keep indefinitely. They're also packaged in throwaway containers and come with fancy price tags.



Better: Make real pudding from organic milk and flavorings, or try other traditional cooked puddings and pour them into small jars to grab when you need them. You can make flavored Jello-style desserts by dissolving 1 packet of unflavored gelatin (or 1 teaspoon of agar powder if you're vegetarian) in one cup of warmed fruit juice and adding one cup of cold juice to make a total of 2 cups. (Use 2 packets of gelatin to make jiggly shapes.) Add bits of fresh fruit if you'd like, pour into small containers, and chill until set.

Often the only fruit in fruit rolls and "snacks" are in the picture on the package, and most such products contain lots of high-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors.



Better: Pack fresh whole fruit, fruit slices, dried fruit, or homemade fruit leather.

Rich in high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, white flour, and preservatives to keep them "fresh," these items are guaranteed to send the eater into sugar shock, destined to drop into a semi-stupor a few hours later (when checking labels, steer clear of these 10 sneaky names for sugar).



Better: Pack dried fruits or fruit and nut bars as sweet lunch treats. For occasional treats, buy boxes of organic cookies and pack 100 calories' worth (often about three cookies) in small containers, or make your own baked treats and package small servings of them.

Yogurt is a great food, except after the food industry gets hold of it and adds excessive amounts of sweeteners, colors, and artificial flavors.



Better: Buy plain or lightly sweetened organic yogurt by the quart and pack it in small containers with fresh fruit, chopped dry fruit, or a little fruit spread. (Just be sure to avoid these 6 worst yogurt add-ins.)

Easy and healthy-sounding, these plastic-swathed six-packs of cracker sandwiches are cheap for a reason: They contain little real food and lots of hidden sugars, fats, and preservatives (and fake cheese isn't even one of these 7 grossest foods you're eating without realizing it).



Better: Make your own cracker sandwiches with whole-grain crackers and organic nut or seed butter, soft cheese, or your own cheese spread. Make cheddar spread by blending 8 ounces of grated sharp cheddar with 4 tablespoons of softened organic butter. Make a bunch of cracker sandwiches and store them in the fridge, grabbing a few to pack in your lunch every day.

Potato chips, corn chips, cheese puffs, and the like are high in salt, fats, and calories. Even pretzels made from refined white flour are a less-than-optimal snack choice.



Better: For a little salty crunch, pack a few ounces of lightly salted nuts, homemade lightly seasoned bagel or baked corn chips, real veggie chips (here are 5 easy, delicious ways to make your own veggie chips), or whip up a batch of kale chips.

Most bottled waters are nothing more than tap water packaged in throwaway plastic, but priced 1,900 times higher than tap, according to the Environmental Working Group.



Better: Invest in a reusable water bottle, and you'll pay off your investment after about two months, depending on the brand of bottled water you buy and how much you drink. (Our friends at Bicycling.com have this cool vintage-looking set of two reusable bottles that are BPA-free.)

Sweetened beverages are a huge source of hidden calories, and those sweetened with artificial sweeteners have downsides as well (Need proof? Here are 8 things that happen to your body when you finally stop drinking diet soda.). Plus, many beverages are loaded with artificial colors and flavors and come in throwaway single-serve containers.



Better: If you want the taste and nutrition of fruit, eat fruit! It's full of fiber and won't make your blood sugar spike. To quench your thirst and keep yourself hydrated when you don't have access to good tap water during the day, pack plain water, tea, or coffee in a reusable bottle (keep your H20 interesting with these 25 slimming sassy water recipes).


15 Worst Things In Your Lunch Bag

The healthiest lunch you can eat is the one you make for yourself. It'll also save you a bundle over restaurant food, and the landfills will thank you for leaving all the disposable wrappers, bowls, and packaging behind. The problem? The food industry has convinced us that we can't make our own lunches without a whole bunch of "convenience" foods that are expensive and wasteful at best and, at worst, are full of unhealthy food additives and chemicals. Luckily, whether it's for yourself or your children, you can still pack tasty, wholesome lunches the old-fashioned way&mdashfrom scratch&mdashin just a few minutes a day (for 200 delicious, family-friendly recipes everyone will love, you have to check out the new cookbook Scratch from Maria Rodale).

Here are 15 things to avoid, and what to pack instead.

Brightly colored and patterned plastic lunch bags and boxes may appeal to kids, but they often contain high levels of lead and other toxins and can be nearly impossible to clean (been there and tried that&mdashyuck!).

Better: Choose a reusable, washable lunch sack made from either cotton or nylon, and toss it in the machine every weekend. Pack a small cloth napkin and reusable silverware, and you 're ready to dine in style.

If you don't have access to a refrigerator at work or school, frozen ice packs inside a vinyl-free insulated bag might help keep perishables cold, but test it out first (here's how long your groceries can safely sit in a hot car). Pack a jar of cold water in the bag along with the ice pack, seal it, and let it sit at room temperature for however many hours it will sit out between packing it and lunchtime. Then open the bag and take the water's temperature. If the water is warmer than about 45 degrees, test again with two frozen ice packs, or just plan on packing only room-temperature-safe foods.

The average lunch contains a staggering amount of single-use plastic packaging. And reusable plastic containers, inexpensive and unbreakable though they may be, may contain hormone-disrupting chemicals like phthalates and BPA that you'd rather not rub against your food (here's how to tell if BPA is in your food).

Better: Stock up on 4- and 8-ounce mason jelly jars! They cost only a few cents more than similar-size plastic containers (yet they last much longer) and are perfect for packing anything from applesauce to cubes of zucchini bread (we love these adorable reusable jars from Rodale's). They are as close to unbreakable as glass can get and use any standard canning lid&mdashno more hunting through your cabinets for the right top.

Stainless steel containers are another good and long-lasting alternative. Replace your zip-top bags with reusable versions that you can find on sites like ReUseIt.com, and fill those with dry snacks like nuts, crackers, grapes, and other grab-and-go lunchbox fillers. You'll saves lots of plastic packaging (and money) compared to prepackaged single servings. Add a nice reusable water bottle and perhaps a stainless thermos container for hot items, and you've got what it takes to start packing.

Trust the food industry to turn the humble sandwich into a processed food. Premade sandwich-like products are loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, preservatives, and other additives, but are short on real food. And most of the time, they cost more than their easy-to-make counterparts.



Better: It really isn't that difficult to make your own sandwiches, and you can even make your own (and freeze ahead of time) "Uncrustables" sans nasty additives. Nut butters, chopped cooked meats, canned salmon, and grated cheese are all good freezable sandwich ingredients, according to the University of Nebraska Extension Service (or whip up one of these 16 freezer-ready recipes).

Freeze your assembled sandwiches for about an hour before transferring them to a freezer-safe container, but add condiments and toppings like lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles the day you eat it, since those can get limp and soggy in the freezer. To make a freezable PB&J, spread a little butter on the jelly side of your sandwich first to prevent the jam from soaking in and making your bread soggy.

Don't get us started on overpriced, over-packaged lunch fodder packed in plastic trays containing a few tidbits of this and that, most of it loaded with salt and preservatives. We even saw one shaped like Mickey Mouse the last time we were in the supermarket. Argh!



Better: Pack similar, healthier ingredients in small containers. Do a bunch at once and keep them on hand for quick packing, and let the eaters pick their own combos every evening or morning. Typical choices like cheese cubes or shreds, salsa or pizza sauce, whole-grain crackers, cut-up veggies and fruits, and real cooked meats are great, but the possibilities are endless. Take a cue from the Japanese and assemble your selections in a bento box. (You can buy these 6 lunches anywhere for $6 or less.)

Processed lunch meats tend to be high in sodium, nitrates, fats, and fat-soluble pesticides.



Better: You can save a bundle on lunch meant by spending a little time over the weekend roasting a chicken or a larger cut of beef. Shred it or slice it thin for easy sandwich-fixings. Or, for a fast, no-cook alternative, buy canned fish (just avoid these 4 kinds). Salmon is a great low-mercury swap for tuna, and sardines pack a mighty omega-3 punch.

Most crackers are made from refined flour, unhealthy fats, sugar, and artificial flavorings.



Better: Select crackers that list whole grain flours as the first ingredient or try making your own (this recipe will get you started). It's easy, and for the price of a single box of crackers, you can buy a bag of flour that would make four to five boxes worth.

These are two healthy-sounding snacks that the food industry has turned into something closer to candy bars than to real food.



Better: Look for bars that contain at least 2 grams of fiber and less than 10 grams of sugar, or save money and make your own no-bake energy bars.

Packaged pudding and gelatin are two more once-healthy foods that have been gussied up with too much sugar plus additives to make them keep indefinitely. They're also packaged in throwaway containers and come with fancy price tags.



Better: Make real pudding from organic milk and flavorings, or try other traditional cooked puddings and pour them into small jars to grab when you need them. You can make flavored Jello-style desserts by dissolving 1 packet of unflavored gelatin (or 1 teaspoon of agar powder if you're vegetarian) in one cup of warmed fruit juice and adding one cup of cold juice to make a total of 2 cups. (Use 2 packets of gelatin to make jiggly shapes.) Add bits of fresh fruit if you'd like, pour into small containers, and chill until set.

Often the only fruit in fruit rolls and "snacks" are in the picture on the package, and most such products contain lots of high-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors.



Better: Pack fresh whole fruit, fruit slices, dried fruit, or homemade fruit leather.

Rich in high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, white flour, and preservatives to keep them "fresh," these items are guaranteed to send the eater into sugar shock, destined to drop into a semi-stupor a few hours later (when checking labels, steer clear of these 10 sneaky names for sugar).



Better: Pack dried fruits or fruit and nut bars as sweet lunch treats. For occasional treats, buy boxes of organic cookies and pack 100 calories' worth (often about three cookies) in small containers, or make your own baked treats and package small servings of them.

Yogurt is a great food, except after the food industry gets hold of it and adds excessive amounts of sweeteners, colors, and artificial flavors.



Better: Buy plain or lightly sweetened organic yogurt by the quart and pack it in small containers with fresh fruit, chopped dry fruit, or a little fruit spread. (Just be sure to avoid these 6 worst yogurt add-ins.)

Easy and healthy-sounding, these plastic-swathed six-packs of cracker sandwiches are cheap for a reason: They contain little real food and lots of hidden sugars, fats, and preservatives (and fake cheese isn't even one of these 7 grossest foods you're eating without realizing it).



Better: Make your own cracker sandwiches with whole-grain crackers and organic nut or seed butter, soft cheese, or your own cheese spread. Make cheddar spread by blending 8 ounces of grated sharp cheddar with 4 tablespoons of softened organic butter. Make a bunch of cracker sandwiches and store them in the fridge, grabbing a few to pack in your lunch every day.

Potato chips, corn chips, cheese puffs, and the like are high in salt, fats, and calories. Even pretzels made from refined white flour are a less-than-optimal snack choice.



Better: For a little salty crunch, pack a few ounces of lightly salted nuts, homemade lightly seasoned bagel or baked corn chips, real veggie chips (here are 5 easy, delicious ways to make your own veggie chips), or whip up a batch of kale chips.

Most bottled waters are nothing more than tap water packaged in throwaway plastic, but priced 1,900 times higher than tap, according to the Environmental Working Group.



Better: Invest in a reusable water bottle, and you'll pay off your investment after about two months, depending on the brand of bottled water you buy and how much you drink. (Our friends at Bicycling.com have this cool vintage-looking set of two reusable bottles that are BPA-free.)

Sweetened beverages are a huge source of hidden calories, and those sweetened with artificial sweeteners have downsides as well (Need proof? Here are 8 things that happen to your body when you finally stop drinking diet soda.). Plus, many beverages are loaded with artificial colors and flavors and come in throwaway single-serve containers.



Better: If you want the taste and nutrition of fruit, eat fruit! It's full of fiber and won't make your blood sugar spike. To quench your thirst and keep yourself hydrated when you don't have access to good tap water during the day, pack plain water, tea, or coffee in a reusable bottle (keep your H20 interesting with these 25 slimming sassy water recipes).


15 Worst Things In Your Lunch Bag

The healthiest lunch you can eat is the one you make for yourself. It'll also save you a bundle over restaurant food, and the landfills will thank you for leaving all the disposable wrappers, bowls, and packaging behind. The problem? The food industry has convinced us that we can't make our own lunches without a whole bunch of "convenience" foods that are expensive and wasteful at best and, at worst, are full of unhealthy food additives and chemicals. Luckily, whether it's for yourself or your children, you can still pack tasty, wholesome lunches the old-fashioned way&mdashfrom scratch&mdashin just a few minutes a day (for 200 delicious, family-friendly recipes everyone will love, you have to check out the new cookbook Scratch from Maria Rodale).

Here are 15 things to avoid, and what to pack instead.

Brightly colored and patterned plastic lunch bags and boxes may appeal to kids, but they often contain high levels of lead and other toxins and can be nearly impossible to clean (been there and tried that&mdashyuck!).

Better: Choose a reusable, washable lunch sack made from either cotton or nylon, and toss it in the machine every weekend. Pack a small cloth napkin and reusable silverware, and you 're ready to dine in style.

If you don't have access to a refrigerator at work or school, frozen ice packs inside a vinyl-free insulated bag might help keep perishables cold, but test it out first (here's how long your groceries can safely sit in a hot car). Pack a jar of cold water in the bag along with the ice pack, seal it, and let it sit at room temperature for however many hours it will sit out between packing it and lunchtime. Then open the bag and take the water's temperature. If the water is warmer than about 45 degrees, test again with two frozen ice packs, or just plan on packing only room-temperature-safe foods.

The average lunch contains a staggering amount of single-use plastic packaging. And reusable plastic containers, inexpensive and unbreakable though they may be, may contain hormone-disrupting chemicals like phthalates and BPA that you'd rather not rub against your food (here's how to tell if BPA is in your food).

Better: Stock up on 4- and 8-ounce mason jelly jars! They cost only a few cents more than similar-size plastic containers (yet they last much longer) and are perfect for packing anything from applesauce to cubes of zucchini bread (we love these adorable reusable jars from Rodale's). They are as close to unbreakable as glass can get and use any standard canning lid&mdashno more hunting through your cabinets for the right top.

Stainless steel containers are another good and long-lasting alternative. Replace your zip-top bags with reusable versions that you can find on sites like ReUseIt.com, and fill those with dry snacks like nuts, crackers, grapes, and other grab-and-go lunchbox fillers. You'll saves lots of plastic packaging (and money) compared to prepackaged single servings. Add a nice reusable water bottle and perhaps a stainless thermos container for hot items, and you've got what it takes to start packing.

Trust the food industry to turn the humble sandwich into a processed food. Premade sandwich-like products are loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, preservatives, and other additives, but are short on real food. And most of the time, they cost more than their easy-to-make counterparts.



Better: It really isn't that difficult to make your own sandwiches, and you can even make your own (and freeze ahead of time) "Uncrustables" sans nasty additives. Nut butters, chopped cooked meats, canned salmon, and grated cheese are all good freezable sandwich ingredients, according to the University of Nebraska Extension Service (or whip up one of these 16 freezer-ready recipes).

Freeze your assembled sandwiches for about an hour before transferring them to a freezer-safe container, but add condiments and toppings like lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles the day you eat it, since those can get limp and soggy in the freezer. To make a freezable PB&J, spread a little butter on the jelly side of your sandwich first to prevent the jam from soaking in and making your bread soggy.

Don't get us started on overpriced, over-packaged lunch fodder packed in plastic trays containing a few tidbits of this and that, most of it loaded with salt and preservatives. We even saw one shaped like Mickey Mouse the last time we were in the supermarket. Argh!



Better: Pack similar, healthier ingredients in small containers. Do a bunch at once and keep them on hand for quick packing, and let the eaters pick their own combos every evening or morning. Typical choices like cheese cubes or shreds, salsa or pizza sauce, whole-grain crackers, cut-up veggies and fruits, and real cooked meats are great, but the possibilities are endless. Take a cue from the Japanese and assemble your selections in a bento box. (You can buy these 6 lunches anywhere for $6 or less.)

Processed lunch meats tend to be high in sodium, nitrates, fats, and fat-soluble pesticides.



Better: You can save a bundle on lunch meant by spending a little time over the weekend roasting a chicken or a larger cut of beef. Shred it or slice it thin for easy sandwich-fixings. Or, for a fast, no-cook alternative, buy canned fish (just avoid these 4 kinds). Salmon is a great low-mercury swap for tuna, and sardines pack a mighty omega-3 punch.

Most crackers are made from refined flour, unhealthy fats, sugar, and artificial flavorings.



Better: Select crackers that list whole grain flours as the first ingredient or try making your own (this recipe will get you started). It's easy, and for the price of a single box of crackers, you can buy a bag of flour that would make four to five boxes worth.

These are two healthy-sounding snacks that the food industry has turned into something closer to candy bars than to real food.



Better: Look for bars that contain at least 2 grams of fiber and less than 10 grams of sugar, or save money and make your own no-bake energy bars.

Packaged pudding and gelatin are two more once-healthy foods that have been gussied up with too much sugar plus additives to make them keep indefinitely. They're also packaged in throwaway containers and come with fancy price tags.



Better: Make real pudding from organic milk and flavorings, or try other traditional cooked puddings and pour them into small jars to grab when you need them. You can make flavored Jello-style desserts by dissolving 1 packet of unflavored gelatin (or 1 teaspoon of agar powder if you're vegetarian) in one cup of warmed fruit juice and adding one cup of cold juice to make a total of 2 cups. (Use 2 packets of gelatin to make jiggly shapes.) Add bits of fresh fruit if you'd like, pour into small containers, and chill until set.

Often the only fruit in fruit rolls and "snacks" are in the picture on the package, and most such products contain lots of high-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors.



Better: Pack fresh whole fruit, fruit slices, dried fruit, or homemade fruit leather.

Rich in high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, white flour, and preservatives to keep them "fresh," these items are guaranteed to send the eater into sugar shock, destined to drop into a semi-stupor a few hours later (when checking labels, steer clear of these 10 sneaky names for sugar).



Better: Pack dried fruits or fruit and nut bars as sweet lunch treats. For occasional treats, buy boxes of organic cookies and pack 100 calories' worth (often about three cookies) in small containers, or make your own baked treats and package small servings of them.

Yogurt is a great food, except after the food industry gets hold of it and adds excessive amounts of sweeteners, colors, and artificial flavors.



Better: Buy plain or lightly sweetened organic yogurt by the quart and pack it in small containers with fresh fruit, chopped dry fruit, or a little fruit spread. (Just be sure to avoid these 6 worst yogurt add-ins.)

Easy and healthy-sounding, these plastic-swathed six-packs of cracker sandwiches are cheap for a reason: They contain little real food and lots of hidden sugars, fats, and preservatives (and fake cheese isn't even one of these 7 grossest foods you're eating without realizing it).



Better: Make your own cracker sandwiches with whole-grain crackers and organic nut or seed butter, soft cheese, or your own cheese spread. Make cheddar spread by blending 8 ounces of grated sharp cheddar with 4 tablespoons of softened organic butter. Make a bunch of cracker sandwiches and store them in the fridge, grabbing a few to pack in your lunch every day.

Potato chips, corn chips, cheese puffs, and the like are high in salt, fats, and calories. Even pretzels made from refined white flour are a less-than-optimal snack choice.



Better: For a little salty crunch, pack a few ounces of lightly salted nuts, homemade lightly seasoned bagel or baked corn chips, real veggie chips (here are 5 easy, delicious ways to make your own veggie chips), or whip up a batch of kale chips.

Most bottled waters are nothing more than tap water packaged in throwaway plastic, but priced 1,900 times higher than tap, according to the Environmental Working Group.



Better: Invest in a reusable water bottle, and you'll pay off your investment after about two months, depending on the brand of bottled water you buy and how much you drink. (Our friends at Bicycling.com have this cool vintage-looking set of two reusable bottles that are BPA-free.)

Sweetened beverages are a huge source of hidden calories, and those sweetened with artificial sweeteners have downsides as well (Need proof? Here are 8 things that happen to your body when you finally stop drinking diet soda.). Plus, many beverages are loaded with artificial colors and flavors and come in throwaway single-serve containers.



Better: If you want the taste and nutrition of fruit, eat fruit! It's full of fiber and won't make your blood sugar spike. To quench your thirst and keep yourself hydrated when you don't have access to good tap water during the day, pack plain water, tea, or coffee in a reusable bottle (keep your H20 interesting with these 25 slimming sassy water recipes).


15 Worst Things In Your Lunch Bag

The healthiest lunch you can eat is the one you make for yourself. It'll also save you a bundle over restaurant food, and the landfills will thank you for leaving all the disposable wrappers, bowls, and packaging behind. The problem? The food industry has convinced us that we can't make our own lunches without a whole bunch of "convenience" foods that are expensive and wasteful at best and, at worst, are full of unhealthy food additives and chemicals. Luckily, whether it's for yourself or your children, you can still pack tasty, wholesome lunches the old-fashioned way&mdashfrom scratch&mdashin just a few minutes a day (for 200 delicious, family-friendly recipes everyone will love, you have to check out the new cookbook Scratch from Maria Rodale).

Here are 15 things to avoid, and what to pack instead.

Brightly colored and patterned plastic lunch bags and boxes may appeal to kids, but they often contain high levels of lead and other toxins and can be nearly impossible to clean (been there and tried that&mdashyuck!).

Better: Choose a reusable, washable lunch sack made from either cotton or nylon, and toss it in the machine every weekend. Pack a small cloth napkin and reusable silverware, and you 're ready to dine in style.

If you don't have access to a refrigerator at work or school, frozen ice packs inside a vinyl-free insulated bag might help keep perishables cold, but test it out first (here's how long your groceries can safely sit in a hot car). Pack a jar of cold water in the bag along with the ice pack, seal it, and let it sit at room temperature for however many hours it will sit out between packing it and lunchtime. Then open the bag and take the water's temperature. If the water is warmer than about 45 degrees, test again with two frozen ice packs, or just plan on packing only room-temperature-safe foods.

The average lunch contains a staggering amount of single-use plastic packaging. And reusable plastic containers, inexpensive and unbreakable though they may be, may contain hormone-disrupting chemicals like phthalates and BPA that you'd rather not rub against your food (here's how to tell if BPA is in your food).

Better: Stock up on 4- and 8-ounce mason jelly jars! They cost only a few cents more than similar-size plastic containers (yet they last much longer) and are perfect for packing anything from applesauce to cubes of zucchini bread (we love these adorable reusable jars from Rodale's). They are as close to unbreakable as glass can get and use any standard canning lid&mdashno more hunting through your cabinets for the right top.

Stainless steel containers are another good and long-lasting alternative. Replace your zip-top bags with reusable versions that you can find on sites like ReUseIt.com, and fill those with dry snacks like nuts, crackers, grapes, and other grab-and-go lunchbox fillers. You'll saves lots of plastic packaging (and money) compared to prepackaged single servings. Add a nice reusable water bottle and perhaps a stainless thermos container for hot items, and you've got what it takes to start packing.

Trust the food industry to turn the humble sandwich into a processed food. Premade sandwich-like products are loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, preservatives, and other additives, but are short on real food. And most of the time, they cost more than their easy-to-make counterparts.



Better: It really isn't that difficult to make your own sandwiches, and you can even make your own (and freeze ahead of time) "Uncrustables" sans nasty additives. Nut butters, chopped cooked meats, canned salmon, and grated cheese are all good freezable sandwich ingredients, according to the University of Nebraska Extension Service (or whip up one of these 16 freezer-ready recipes).

Freeze your assembled sandwiches for about an hour before transferring them to a freezer-safe container, but add condiments and toppings like lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles the day you eat it, since those can get limp and soggy in the freezer. To make a freezable PB&J, spread a little butter on the jelly side of your sandwich first to prevent the jam from soaking in and making your bread soggy.

Don't get us started on overpriced, over-packaged lunch fodder packed in plastic trays containing a few tidbits of this and that, most of it loaded with salt and preservatives. We even saw one shaped like Mickey Mouse the last time we were in the supermarket. Argh!



Better: Pack similar, healthier ingredients in small containers. Do a bunch at once and keep them on hand for quick packing, and let the eaters pick their own combos every evening or morning. Typical choices like cheese cubes or shreds, salsa or pizza sauce, whole-grain crackers, cut-up veggies and fruits, and real cooked meats are great, but the possibilities are endless. Take a cue from the Japanese and assemble your selections in a bento box. (You can buy these 6 lunches anywhere for $6 or less.)

Processed lunch meats tend to be high in sodium, nitrates, fats, and fat-soluble pesticides.



Better: You can save a bundle on lunch meant by spending a little time over the weekend roasting a chicken or a larger cut of beef. Shred it or slice it thin for easy sandwich-fixings. Or, for a fast, no-cook alternative, buy canned fish (just avoid these 4 kinds). Salmon is a great low-mercury swap for tuna, and sardines pack a mighty omega-3 punch.

Most crackers are made from refined flour, unhealthy fats, sugar, and artificial flavorings.



Better: Select crackers that list whole grain flours as the first ingredient or try making your own (this recipe will get you started). It's easy, and for the price of a single box of crackers, you can buy a bag of flour that would make four to five boxes worth.

These are two healthy-sounding snacks that the food industry has turned into something closer to candy bars than to real food.



Better: Look for bars that contain at least 2 grams of fiber and less than 10 grams of sugar, or save money and make your own no-bake energy bars.

Packaged pudding and gelatin are two more once-healthy foods that have been gussied up with too much sugar plus additives to make them keep indefinitely. They're also packaged in throwaway containers and come with fancy price tags.



Better: Make real pudding from organic milk and flavorings, or try other traditional cooked puddings and pour them into small jars to grab when you need them. You can make flavored Jello-style desserts by dissolving 1 packet of unflavored gelatin (or 1 teaspoon of agar powder if you're vegetarian) in one cup of warmed fruit juice and adding one cup of cold juice to make a total of 2 cups. (Use 2 packets of gelatin to make jiggly shapes.) Add bits of fresh fruit if you'd like, pour into small containers, and chill until set.

Often the only fruit in fruit rolls and "snacks" are in the picture on the package, and most such products contain lots of high-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors.



Better: Pack fresh whole fruit, fruit slices, dried fruit, or homemade fruit leather.

Rich in high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, white flour, and preservatives to keep them "fresh," these items are guaranteed to send the eater into sugar shock, destined to drop into a semi-stupor a few hours later (when checking labels, steer clear of these 10 sneaky names for sugar).



Better: Pack dried fruits or fruit and nut bars as sweet lunch treats. For occasional treats, buy boxes of organic cookies and pack 100 calories' worth (often about three cookies) in small containers, or make your own baked treats and package small servings of them.

Yogurt is a great food, except after the food industry gets hold of it and adds excessive amounts of sweeteners, colors, and artificial flavors.



Better: Buy plain or lightly sweetened organic yogurt by the quart and pack it in small containers with fresh fruit, chopped dry fruit, or a little fruit spread. (Just be sure to avoid these 6 worst yogurt add-ins.)

Easy and healthy-sounding, these plastic-swathed six-packs of cracker sandwiches are cheap for a reason: They contain little real food and lots of hidden sugars, fats, and preservatives (and fake cheese isn't even one of these 7 grossest foods you're eating without realizing it).



Better: Make your own cracker sandwiches with whole-grain crackers and organic nut or seed butter, soft cheese, or your own cheese spread. Make cheddar spread by blending 8 ounces of grated sharp cheddar with 4 tablespoons of softened organic butter. Make a bunch of cracker sandwiches and store them in the fridge, grabbing a few to pack in your lunch every day.

Potato chips, corn chips, cheese puffs, and the like are high in salt, fats, and calories. Even pretzels made from refined white flour are a less-than-optimal snack choice.



Better: For a little salty crunch, pack a few ounces of lightly salted nuts, homemade lightly seasoned bagel or baked corn chips, real veggie chips (here are 5 easy, delicious ways to make your own veggie chips), or whip up a batch of kale chips.

Most bottled waters are nothing more than tap water packaged in throwaway plastic, but priced 1,900 times higher than tap, according to the Environmental Working Group.



Better: Invest in a reusable water bottle, and you'll pay off your investment after about two months, depending on the brand of bottled water you buy and how much you drink. (Our friends at Bicycling.com have this cool vintage-looking set of two reusable bottles that are BPA-free.)

Sweetened beverages are a huge source of hidden calories, and those sweetened with artificial sweeteners have downsides as well (Need proof? Here are 8 things that happen to your body when you finally stop drinking diet soda.). Plus, many beverages are loaded with artificial colors and flavors and come in throwaway single-serve containers.



Better: If you want the taste and nutrition of fruit, eat fruit! It's full of fiber and won't make your blood sugar spike. To quench your thirst and keep yourself hydrated when you don't have access to good tap water during the day, pack plain water, tea, or coffee in a reusable bottle (keep your H20 interesting with these 25 slimming sassy water recipes).


15 Worst Things In Your Lunch Bag

The healthiest lunch you can eat is the one you make for yourself. It'll also save you a bundle over restaurant food, and the landfills will thank you for leaving all the disposable wrappers, bowls, and packaging behind. The problem? The food industry has convinced us that we can't make our own lunches without a whole bunch of "convenience" foods that are expensive and wasteful at best and, at worst, are full of unhealthy food additives and chemicals. Luckily, whether it's for yourself or your children, you can still pack tasty, wholesome lunches the old-fashioned way&mdashfrom scratch&mdashin just a few minutes a day (for 200 delicious, family-friendly recipes everyone will love, you have to check out the new cookbook Scratch from Maria Rodale).

Here are 15 things to avoid, and what to pack instead.

Brightly colored and patterned plastic lunch bags and boxes may appeal to kids, but they often contain high levels of lead and other toxins and can be nearly impossible to clean (been there and tried that&mdashyuck!).

Better: Choose a reusable, washable lunch sack made from either cotton or nylon, and toss it in the machine every weekend. Pack a small cloth napkin and reusable silverware, and you 're ready to dine in style.

If you don't have access to a refrigerator at work or school, frozen ice packs inside a vinyl-free insulated bag might help keep perishables cold, but test it out first (here's how long your groceries can safely sit in a hot car). Pack a jar of cold water in the bag along with the ice pack, seal it, and let it sit at room temperature for however many hours it will sit out between packing it and lunchtime. Then open the bag and take the water's temperature. If the water is warmer than about 45 degrees, test again with two frozen ice packs, or just plan on packing only room-temperature-safe foods.

The average lunch contains a staggering amount of single-use plastic packaging. And reusable plastic containers, inexpensive and unbreakable though they may be, may contain hormone-disrupting chemicals like phthalates and BPA that you'd rather not rub against your food (here's how to tell if BPA is in your food).

Better: Stock up on 4- and 8-ounce mason jelly jars! They cost only a few cents more than similar-size plastic containers (yet they last much longer) and are perfect for packing anything from applesauce to cubes of zucchini bread (we love these adorable reusable jars from Rodale's). They are as close to unbreakable as glass can get and use any standard canning lid&mdashno more hunting through your cabinets for the right top.

Stainless steel containers are another good and long-lasting alternative. Replace your zip-top bags with reusable versions that you can find on sites like ReUseIt.com, and fill those with dry snacks like nuts, crackers, grapes, and other grab-and-go lunchbox fillers. You'll saves lots of plastic packaging (and money) compared to prepackaged single servings. Add a nice reusable water bottle and perhaps a stainless thermos container for hot items, and you've got what it takes to start packing.

Trust the food industry to turn the humble sandwich into a processed food. Premade sandwich-like products are loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, preservatives, and other additives, but are short on real food. And most of the time, they cost more than their easy-to-make counterparts.



Better: It really isn't that difficult to make your own sandwiches, and you can even make your own (and freeze ahead of time) "Uncrustables" sans nasty additives. Nut butters, chopped cooked meats, canned salmon, and grated cheese are all good freezable sandwich ingredients, according to the University of Nebraska Extension Service (or whip up one of these 16 freezer-ready recipes).

Freeze your assembled sandwiches for about an hour before transferring them to a freezer-safe container, but add condiments and toppings like lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles the day you eat it, since those can get limp and soggy in the freezer. To make a freezable PB&J, spread a little butter on the jelly side of your sandwich first to prevent the jam from soaking in and making your bread soggy.

Don't get us started on overpriced, over-packaged lunch fodder packed in plastic trays containing a few tidbits of this and that, most of it loaded with salt and preservatives. We even saw one shaped like Mickey Mouse the last time we were in the supermarket. Argh!



Better: Pack similar, healthier ingredients in small containers. Do a bunch at once and keep them on hand for quick packing, and let the eaters pick their own combos every evening or morning. Typical choices like cheese cubes or shreds, salsa or pizza sauce, whole-grain crackers, cut-up veggies and fruits, and real cooked meats are great, but the possibilities are endless. Take a cue from the Japanese and assemble your selections in a bento box. (You can buy these 6 lunches anywhere for $6 or less.)

Processed lunch meats tend to be high in sodium, nitrates, fats, and fat-soluble pesticides.



Better: You can save a bundle on lunch meant by spending a little time over the weekend roasting a chicken or a larger cut of beef. Shred it or slice it thin for easy sandwich-fixings. Or, for a fast, no-cook alternative, buy canned fish (just avoid these 4 kinds). Salmon is a great low-mercury swap for tuna, and sardines pack a mighty omega-3 punch.

Most crackers are made from refined flour, unhealthy fats, sugar, and artificial flavorings.



Better: Select crackers that list whole grain flours as the first ingredient or try making your own (this recipe will get you started). It's easy, and for the price of a single box of crackers, you can buy a bag of flour that would make four to five boxes worth.

These are two healthy-sounding snacks that the food industry has turned into something closer to candy bars than to real food.



Better: Look for bars that contain at least 2 grams of fiber and less than 10 grams of sugar, or save money and make your own no-bake energy bars.

Packaged pudding and gelatin are two more once-healthy foods that have been gussied up with too much sugar plus additives to make them keep indefinitely. They're also packaged in throwaway containers and come with fancy price tags.



Better: Make real pudding from organic milk and flavorings, or try other traditional cooked puddings and pour them into small jars to grab when you need them. You can make flavored Jello-style desserts by dissolving 1 packet of unflavored gelatin (or 1 teaspoon of agar powder if you're vegetarian) in one cup of warmed fruit juice and adding one cup of cold juice to make a total of 2 cups. (Use 2 packets of gelatin to make jiggly shapes.) Add bits of fresh fruit if you'd like, pour into small containers, and chill until set.

Often the only fruit in fruit rolls and "snacks" are in the picture on the package, and most such products contain lots of high-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors.



Better: Pack fresh whole fruit, fruit slices, dried fruit, or homemade fruit leather.

Rich in high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, white flour, and preservatives to keep them "fresh," these items are guaranteed to send the eater into sugar shock, destined to drop into a semi-stupor a few hours later (when checking labels, steer clear of these 10 sneaky names for sugar).



Better: Pack dried fruits or fruit and nut bars as sweet lunch treats. For occasional treats, buy boxes of organic cookies and pack 100 calories' worth (often about three cookies) in small containers, or make your own baked treats and package small servings of them.

Yogurt is a great food, except after the food industry gets hold of it and adds excessive amounts of sweeteners, colors, and artificial flavors.



Better: Buy plain or lightly sweetened organic yogurt by the quart and pack it in small containers with fresh fruit, chopped dry fruit, or a little fruit spread. (Just be sure to avoid these 6 worst yogurt add-ins.)

Easy and healthy-sounding, these plastic-swathed six-packs of cracker sandwiches are cheap for a reason: They contain little real food and lots of hidden sugars, fats, and preservatives (and fake cheese isn't even one of these 7 grossest foods you're eating without realizing it).



Better: Make your own cracker sandwiches with whole-grain crackers and organic nut or seed butter, soft cheese, or your own cheese spread. Make cheddar spread by blending 8 ounces of grated sharp cheddar with 4 tablespoons of softened organic butter. Make a bunch of cracker sandwiches and store them in the fridge, grabbing a few to pack in your lunch every day.

Potato chips, corn chips, cheese puffs, and the like are high in salt, fats, and calories. Even pretzels made from refined white flour are a less-than-optimal snack choice.



Better: For a little salty crunch, pack a few ounces of lightly salted nuts, homemade lightly seasoned bagel or baked corn chips, real veggie chips (here are 5 easy, delicious ways to make your own veggie chips), or whip up a batch of kale chips.

Most bottled waters are nothing more than tap water packaged in throwaway plastic, but priced 1,900 times higher than tap, according to the Environmental Working Group.



Better: Invest in a reusable water bottle, and you'll pay off your investment after about two months, depending on the brand of bottled water you buy and how much you drink. (Our friends at Bicycling.com have this cool vintage-looking set of two reusable bottles that are BPA-free.)

Sweetened beverages are a huge source of hidden calories, and those sweetened with artificial sweeteners have downsides as well (Need proof? Here are 8 things that happen to your body when you finally stop drinking diet soda.). Plus, many beverages are loaded with artificial colors and flavors and come in throwaway single-serve containers.



Better: If you want the taste and nutrition of fruit, eat fruit! It's full of fiber and won't make your blood sugar spike. To quench your thirst and keep yourself hydrated when you don't have access to good tap water during the day, pack plain water, tea, or coffee in a reusable bottle (keep your H20 interesting with these 25 slimming sassy water recipes).


15 Worst Things In Your Lunch Bag

The healthiest lunch you can eat is the one you make for yourself. It'll also save you a bundle over restaurant food, and the landfills will thank you for leaving all the disposable wrappers, bowls, and packaging behind. The problem? The food industry has convinced us that we can't make our own lunches without a whole bunch of "convenience" foods that are expensive and wasteful at best and, at worst, are full of unhealthy food additives and chemicals. Luckily, whether it's for yourself or your children, you can still pack tasty, wholesome lunches the old-fashioned way&mdashfrom scratch&mdashin just a few minutes a day (for 200 delicious, family-friendly recipes everyone will love, you have to check out the new cookbook Scratch from Maria Rodale).

Here are 15 things to avoid, and what to pack instead.

Brightly colored and patterned plastic lunch bags and boxes may appeal to kids, but they often contain high levels of lead and other toxins and can be nearly impossible to clean (been there and tried that&mdashyuck!).

Better: Choose a reusable, washable lunch sack made from either cotton or nylon, and toss it in the machine every weekend. Pack a small cloth napkin and reusable silverware, and you 're ready to dine in style.

If you don't have access to a refrigerator at work or school, frozen ice packs inside a vinyl-free insulated bag might help keep perishables cold, but test it out first (here's how long your groceries can safely sit in a hot car). Pack a jar of cold water in the bag along with the ice pack, seal it, and let it sit at room temperature for however many hours it will sit out between packing it and lunchtime. Then open the bag and take the water's temperature. If the water is warmer than about 45 degrees, test again with two frozen ice packs, or just plan on packing only room-temperature-safe foods.

The average lunch contains a staggering amount of single-use plastic packaging. And reusable plastic containers, inexpensive and unbreakable though they may be, may contain hormone-disrupting chemicals like phthalates and BPA that you'd rather not rub against your food (here's how to tell if BPA is in your food).

Better: Stock up on 4- and 8-ounce mason jelly jars! They cost only a few cents more than similar-size plastic containers (yet they last much longer) and are perfect for packing anything from applesauce to cubes of zucchini bread (we love these adorable reusable jars from Rodale's). They are as close to unbreakable as glass can get and use any standard canning lid&mdashno more hunting through your cabinets for the right top.

Stainless steel containers are another good and long-lasting alternative. Replace your zip-top bags with reusable versions that you can find on sites like ReUseIt.com, and fill those with dry snacks like nuts, crackers, grapes, and other grab-and-go lunchbox fillers. You'll saves lots of plastic packaging (and money) compared to prepackaged single servings. Add a nice reusable water bottle and perhaps a stainless thermos container for hot items, and you've got what it takes to start packing.

Trust the food industry to turn the humble sandwich into a processed food. Premade sandwich-like products are loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, preservatives, and other additives, but are short on real food. And most of the time, they cost more than their easy-to-make counterparts.



Better: It really isn't that difficult to make your own sandwiches, and you can even make your own (and freeze ahead of time) "Uncrustables" sans nasty additives. Nut butters, chopped cooked meats, canned salmon, and grated cheese are all good freezable sandwich ingredients, according to the University of Nebraska Extension Service (or whip up one of these 16 freezer-ready recipes).

Freeze your assembled sandwiches for about an hour before transferring them to a freezer-safe container, but add condiments and toppings like lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles the day you eat it, since those can get limp and soggy in the freezer. To make a freezable PB&J, spread a little butter on the jelly side of your sandwich first to prevent the jam from soaking in and making your bread soggy.

Don't get us started on overpriced, over-packaged lunch fodder packed in plastic trays containing a few tidbits of this and that, most of it loaded with salt and preservatives. We even saw one shaped like Mickey Mouse the last time we were in the supermarket. Argh!



Better: Pack similar, healthier ingredients in small containers. Do a bunch at once and keep them on hand for quick packing, and let the eaters pick their own combos every evening or morning. Typical choices like cheese cubes or shreds, salsa or pizza sauce, whole-grain crackers, cut-up veggies and fruits, and real cooked meats are great, but the possibilities are endless. Take a cue from the Japanese and assemble your selections in a bento box. (You can buy these 6 lunches anywhere for $6 or less.)

Processed lunch meats tend to be high in sodium, nitrates, fats, and fat-soluble pesticides.



Better: You can save a bundle on lunch meant by spending a little time over the weekend roasting a chicken or a larger cut of beef. Shred it or slice it thin for easy sandwich-fixings. Or, for a fast, no-cook alternative, buy canned fish (just avoid these 4 kinds). Salmon is a great low-mercury swap for tuna, and sardines pack a mighty omega-3 punch.

Most crackers are made from refined flour, unhealthy fats, sugar, and artificial flavorings.



Better: Select crackers that list whole grain flours as the first ingredient or try making your own (this recipe will get you started). It's easy, and for the price of a single box of crackers, you can buy a bag of flour that would make four to five boxes worth.

These are two healthy-sounding snacks that the food industry has turned into something closer to candy bars than to real food.



Better: Look for bars that contain at least 2 grams of fiber and less than 10 grams of sugar, or save money and make your own no-bake energy bars.

Packaged pudding and gelatin are two more once-healthy foods that have been gussied up with too much sugar plus additives to make them keep indefinitely. They're also packaged in throwaway containers and come with fancy price tags.



Better: Make real pudding from organic milk and flavorings, or try other traditional cooked puddings and pour them into small jars to grab when you need them. You can make flavored Jello-style desserts by dissolving 1 packet of unflavored gelatin (or 1 teaspoon of agar powder if you're vegetarian) in one cup of warmed fruit juice and adding one cup of cold juice to make a total of 2 cups. (Use 2 packets of gelatin to make jiggly shapes.) Add bits of fresh fruit if you'd like, pour into small containers, and chill until set.

Often the only fruit in fruit rolls and "snacks" are in the picture on the package, and most such products contain lots of high-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors.



Better: Pack fresh whole fruit, fruit slices, dried fruit, or homemade fruit leather.

Rich in high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, white flour, and preservatives to keep them "fresh," these items are guaranteed to send the eater into sugar shock, destined to drop into a semi-stupor a few hours later (when checking labels, steer clear of these 10 sneaky names for sugar).



Better: Pack dried fruits or fruit and nut bars as sweet lunch treats. For occasional treats, buy boxes of organic cookies and pack 100 calories' worth (often about three cookies) in small containers, or make your own baked treats and package small servings of them.

Yogurt is a great food, except after the food industry gets hold of it and adds excessive amounts of sweeteners, colors, and artificial flavors.



Better: Buy plain or lightly sweetened organic yogurt by the quart and pack it in small containers with fresh fruit, chopped dry fruit, or a little fruit spread. (Just be sure to avoid these 6 worst yogurt add-ins.)

Easy and healthy-sounding, these plastic-swathed six-packs of cracker sandwiches are cheap for a reason: They contain little real food and lots of hidden sugars, fats, and preservatives (and fake cheese isn't even one of these 7 grossest foods you're eating without realizing it).



Better: Make your own cracker sandwiches with whole-grain crackers and organic nut or seed butter, soft cheese, or your own cheese spread. Make cheddar spread by blending 8 ounces of grated sharp cheddar with 4 tablespoons of softened organic butter. Make a bunch of cracker sandwiches and store them in the fridge, grabbing a few to pack in your lunch every day.

Potato chips, corn chips, cheese puffs, and the like are high in salt, fats, and calories. Even pretzels made from refined white flour are a less-than-optimal snack choice.



Better: For a little salty crunch, pack a few ounces of lightly salted nuts, homemade lightly seasoned bagel or baked corn chips, real veggie chips (here are 5 easy, delicious ways to make your own veggie chips), or whip up a batch of kale chips.

Most bottled waters are nothing more than tap water packaged in throwaway plastic, but priced 1,900 times higher than tap, according to the Environmental Working Group.



Better: Invest in a reusable water bottle, and you'll pay off your investment after about two months, depending on the brand of bottled water you buy and how much you drink. (Our friends at Bicycling.com have this cool vintage-looking set of two reusable bottles that are BPA-free.)

Sweetened beverages are a huge source of hidden calories, and those sweetened with artificial sweeteners have downsides as well (Need proof? Here are 8 things that happen to your body when you finally stop drinking diet soda.). Plus, many beverages are loaded with artificial colors and flavors and come in throwaway single-serve containers.



Better: If you want the taste and nutrition of fruit, eat fruit! It's full of fiber and won't make your blood sugar spike. To quench your thirst and keep yourself hydrated when you don't have access to good tap water during the day, pack plain water, tea, or coffee in a reusable bottle (keep your H20 interesting with these 25 slimming sassy water recipes).


15 Worst Things In Your Lunch Bag

The healthiest lunch you can eat is the one you make for yourself. It'll also save you a bundle over restaurant food, and the landfills will thank you for leaving all the disposable wrappers, bowls, and packaging behind. The problem? The food industry has convinced us that we can't make our own lunches without a whole bunch of "convenience" foods that are expensive and wasteful at best and, at worst, are full of unhealthy food additives and chemicals. Luckily, whether it's for yourself or your children, you can still pack tasty, wholesome lunches the old-fashioned way&mdashfrom scratch&mdashin just a few minutes a day (for 200 delicious, family-friendly recipes everyone will love, you have to check out the new cookbook Scratch from Maria Rodale).

Here are 15 things to avoid, and what to pack instead.

Brightly colored and patterned plastic lunch bags and boxes may appeal to kids, but they often contain high levels of lead and other toxins and can be nearly impossible to clean (been there and tried that&mdashyuck!).

Better: Choose a reusable, washable lunch sack made from either cotton or nylon, and toss it in the machine every weekend. Pack a small cloth napkin and reusable silverware, and you 're ready to dine in style.

If you don't have access to a refrigerator at work or school, frozen ice packs inside a vinyl-free insulated bag might help keep perishables cold, but test it out first (here's how long your groceries can safely sit in a hot car). Pack a jar of cold water in the bag along with the ice pack, seal it, and let it sit at room temperature for however many hours it will sit out between packing it and lunchtime. Then open the bag and take the water's temperature. If the water is warmer than about 45 degrees, test again with two frozen ice packs, or just plan on packing only room-temperature-safe foods.

The average lunch contains a staggering amount of single-use plastic packaging. And reusable plastic containers, inexpensive and unbreakable though they may be, may contain hormone-disrupting chemicals like phthalates and BPA that you'd rather not rub against your food (here's how to tell if BPA is in your food).

Better: Stock up on 4- and 8-ounce mason jelly jars! They cost only a few cents more than similar-size plastic containers (yet they last much longer) and are perfect for packing anything from applesauce to cubes of zucchini bread (we love these adorable reusable jars from Rodale's). They are as close to unbreakable as glass can get and use any standard canning lid&mdashno more hunting through your cabinets for the right top.

Stainless steel containers are another good and long-lasting alternative. Replace your zip-top bags with reusable versions that you can find on sites like ReUseIt.com, and fill those with dry snacks like nuts, crackers, grapes, and other grab-and-go lunchbox fillers. You'll saves lots of plastic packaging (and money) compared to prepackaged single servings. Add a nice reusable water bottle and perhaps a stainless thermos container for hot items, and you've got what it takes to start packing.

Trust the food industry to turn the humble sandwich into a processed food. Premade sandwich-like products are loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, preservatives, and other additives, but are short on real food. And most of the time, they cost more than their easy-to-make counterparts.



Better: It really isn't that difficult to make your own sandwiches, and you can even make your own (and freeze ahead of time) "Uncrustables" sans nasty additives. Nut butters, chopped cooked meats, canned salmon, and grated cheese are all good freezable sandwich ingredients, according to the University of Nebraska Extension Service (or whip up one of these 16 freezer-ready recipes).

Freeze your assembled sandwiches for about an hour before transferring them to a freezer-safe container, but add condiments and toppings like lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles the day you eat it, since those can get limp and soggy in the freezer. To make a freezable PB&J, spread a little butter on the jelly side of your sandwich first to prevent the jam from soaking in and making your bread soggy.

Don't get us started on overpriced, over-packaged lunch fodder packed in plastic trays containing a few tidbits of this and that, most of it loaded with salt and preservatives. We even saw one shaped like Mickey Mouse the last time we were in the supermarket. Argh!



Better: Pack similar, healthier ingredients in small containers. Do a bunch at once and keep them on hand for quick packing, and let the eaters pick their own combos every evening or morning. Typical choices like cheese cubes or shreds, salsa or pizza sauce, whole-grain crackers, cut-up veggies and fruits, and real cooked meats are great, but the possibilities are endless. Take a cue from the Japanese and assemble your selections in a bento box. (You can buy these 6 lunches anywhere for $6 or less.)

Processed lunch meats tend to be high in sodium, nitrates, fats, and fat-soluble pesticides.



Better: You can save a bundle on lunch meant by spending a little time over the weekend roasting a chicken or a larger cut of beef. Shred it or slice it thin for easy sandwich-fixings. Or, for a fast, no-cook alternative, buy canned fish (just avoid these 4 kinds). Salmon is a great low-mercury swap for tuna, and sardines pack a mighty omega-3 punch.

Most crackers are made from refined flour, unhealthy fats, sugar, and artificial flavorings.



Better: Select crackers that list whole grain flours as the first ingredient or try making your own (this recipe will get you started). It's easy, and for the price of a single box of crackers, you can buy a bag of flour that would make four to five boxes worth.

These are two healthy-sounding snacks that the food industry has turned into something closer to candy bars than to real food.



Better: Look for bars that contain at least 2 grams of fiber and less than 10 grams of sugar, or save money and make your own no-bake energy bars.

Packaged pudding and gelatin are two more once-healthy foods that have been gussied up with too much sugar plus additives to make them keep indefinitely. They're also packaged in throwaway containers and come with fancy price tags.



Better: Make real pudding from organic milk and flavorings, or try other traditional cooked puddings and pour them into small jars to grab when you need them. You can make flavored Jello-style desserts by dissolving 1 packet of unflavored gelatin (or 1 teaspoon of agar powder if you're vegetarian) in one cup of warmed fruit juice and adding one cup of cold juice to make a total of 2 cups. (Use 2 packets of gelatin to make jiggly shapes.) Add bits of fresh fruit if you'd like, pour into small containers, and chill until set.

Often the only fruit in fruit rolls and "snacks" are in the picture on the package, and most such products contain lots of high-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors.



Better: Pack fresh whole fruit, fruit slices, dried fruit, or homemade fruit leather.

Rich in high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, white flour, and preservatives to keep them "fresh," these items are guaranteed to send the eater into sugar shock, destined to drop into a semi-stupor a few hours later (when checking labels, steer clear of these 10 sneaky names for sugar).



Better: Pack dried fruits or fruit and nut bars as sweet lunch treats. For occasional treats, buy boxes of organic cookies and pack 100 calories' worth (often about three cookies) in small containers, or make your own baked treats and package small servings of them.

Yogurt is a great food, except after the food industry gets hold of it and adds excessive amounts of sweeteners, colors, and artificial flavors.



Better: Buy plain or lightly sweetened organic yogurt by the quart and pack it in small containers with fresh fruit, chopped dry fruit, or a little fruit spread. (Just be sure to avoid these 6 worst yogurt add-ins.)

Easy and healthy-sounding, these plastic-swathed six-packs of cracker sandwiches are cheap for a reason: They contain little real food and lots of hidden sugars, fats, and preservatives (and fake cheese isn't even one of these 7 grossest foods you're eating without realizing it).



Better: Make your own cracker sandwiches with whole-grain crackers and organic nut or seed butter, soft cheese, or your own cheese spread. Make cheddar spread by blending 8 ounces of grated sharp cheddar with 4 tablespoons of softened organic butter. Make a bunch of cracker sandwiches and store them in the fridge, grabbing a few to pack in your lunch every day.

Potato chips, corn chips, cheese puffs, and the like are high in salt, fats, and calories. Even pretzels made from refined white flour are a less-than-optimal snack choice.



Better: For a little salty crunch, pack a few ounces of lightly salted nuts, homemade lightly seasoned bagel or baked corn chips, real veggie chips (here are 5 easy, delicious ways to make your own veggie chips), or whip up a batch of kale chips.

Most bottled waters are nothing more than tap water packaged in throwaway plastic, but priced 1,900 times higher than tap, according to the Environmental Working Group.



Better: Invest in a reusable water bottle, and you'll pay off your investment after about two months, depending on the brand of bottled water you buy and how much you drink. (Our friends at Bicycling.com have this cool vintage-looking set of two reusable bottles that are BPA-free.)

Sweetened beverages are a huge source of hidden calories, and those sweetened with artificial sweeteners have downsides as well (Need proof? Here are 8 things that happen to your body when you finally stop drinking diet soda.). Plus, many beverages are loaded with artificial colors and flavors and come in throwaway single-serve containers.



Better: If you want the taste and nutrition of fruit, eat fruit! It's full of fiber and won't make your blood sugar spike. To quench your thirst and keep yourself hydrated when you don't have access to good tap water during the day, pack plain water, tea, or coffee in a reusable bottle (keep your H20 interesting with these 25 slimming sassy water recipes).


15 Worst Things In Your Lunch Bag

The healthiest lunch you can eat is the one you make for yourself. It'll also save you a bundle over restaurant food, and the landfills will thank you for leaving all the disposable wrappers, bowls, and packaging behind. The problem? The food industry has convinced us that we can't make our own lunches without a whole bunch of "convenience" foods that are expensive and wasteful at best and, at worst, are full of unhealthy food additives and chemicals. Luckily, whether it's for yourself or your children, you can still pack tasty, wholesome lunches the old-fashioned way&mdashfrom scratch&mdashin just a few minutes a day (for 200 delicious, family-friendly recipes everyone will love, you have to check out the new cookbook Scratch from Maria Rodale).

Here are 15 things to avoid, and what to pack instead.

Brightly colored and patterned plastic lunch bags and boxes may appeal to kids, but they often contain high levels of lead and other toxins and can be nearly impossible to clean (been there and tried that&mdashyuck!).

Better: Choose a reusable, washable lunch sack made from either cotton or nylon, and toss it in the machine every weekend. Pack a small cloth napkin and reusable silverware, and you 're ready to dine in style.

If you don't have access to a refrigerator at work or school, frozen ice packs inside a vinyl-free insulated bag might help keep perishables cold, but test it out first (here's how long your groceries can safely sit in a hot car). Pack a jar of cold water in the bag along with the ice pack, seal it, and let it sit at room temperature for however many hours it will sit out between packing it and lunchtime. Then open the bag and take the water's temperature. If the water is warmer than about 45 degrees, test again with two frozen ice packs, or just plan on packing only room-temperature-safe foods.

The average lunch contains a staggering amount of single-use plastic packaging. And reusable plastic containers, inexpensive and unbreakable though they may be, may contain hormone-disrupting chemicals like phthalates and BPA that you'd rather not rub against your food (here's how to tell if BPA is in your food).

Better: Stock up on 4- and 8-ounce mason jelly jars! They cost only a few cents more than similar-size plastic containers (yet they last much longer) and are perfect for packing anything from applesauce to cubes of zucchini bread (we love these adorable reusable jars from Rodale's). They are as close to unbreakable as glass can get and use any standard canning lid&mdashno more hunting through your cabinets for the right top.

Stainless steel containers are another good and long-lasting alternative. Replace your zip-top bags with reusable versions that you can find on sites like ReUseIt.com, and fill those with dry snacks like nuts, crackers, grapes, and other grab-and-go lunchbox fillers. You'll saves lots of plastic packaging (and money) compared to prepackaged single servings. Add a nice reusable water bottle and perhaps a stainless thermos container for hot items, and you've got what it takes to start packing.

Trust the food industry to turn the humble sandwich into a processed food. Premade sandwich-like products are loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, preservatives, and other additives, but are short on real food. And most of the time, they cost more than their easy-to-make counterparts.



Better: It really isn't that difficult to make your own sandwiches, and you can even make your own (and freeze ahead of time) "Uncrustables" sans nasty additives. Nut butters, chopped cooked meats, canned salmon, and grated cheese are all good freezable sandwich ingredients, according to the University of Nebraska Extension Service (or whip up one of these 16 freezer-ready recipes).

Freeze your assembled sandwiches for about an hour before transferring them to a freezer-safe container, but add condiments and toppings like lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles the day you eat it, since those can get limp and soggy in the freezer. To make a freezable PB&J, spread a little butter on the jelly side of your sandwich first to prevent the jam from soaking in and making your bread soggy.

Don't get us started on overpriced, over-packaged lunch fodder packed in plastic trays containing a few tidbits of this and that, most of it loaded with salt and preservatives. We even saw one shaped like Mickey Mouse the last time we were in the supermarket. Argh!



Better: Pack similar, healthier ingredients in small containers. Do a bunch at once and keep them on hand for quick packing, and let the eaters pick their own combos every evening or morning. Typical choices like cheese cubes or shreds, salsa or pizza sauce, whole-grain crackers, cut-up veggies and fruits, and real cooked meats are great, but the possibilities are endless. Take a cue from the Japanese and assemble your selections in a bento box. (You can buy these 6 lunches anywhere for $6 or less.)

Processed lunch meats tend to be high in sodium, nitrates, fats, and fat-soluble pesticides.



Better: You can save a bundle on lunch meant by spending a little time over the weekend roasting a chicken or a larger cut of beef. Shred it or slice it thin for easy sandwich-fixings. Or, for a fast, no-cook alternative, buy canned fish (just avoid these 4 kinds). Salmon is a great low-mercury swap for tuna, and sardines pack a mighty omega-3 punch.

Most crackers are made from refined flour, unhealthy fats, sugar, and artificial flavorings.



Better: Select crackers that list whole grain flours as the first ingredient or try making your own (this recipe will get you started). It's easy, and for the price of a single box of crackers, you can buy a bag of flour that would make four to five boxes worth.

These are two healthy-sounding snacks that the food industry has turned into something closer to candy bars than to real food.



Better: Look for bars that contain at least 2 grams of fiber and less than 10 grams of sugar, or save money and make your own no-bake energy bars.

Packaged pudding and gelatin are two more once-healthy foods that have been gussied up with too much sugar plus additives to make them keep indefinitely. They're also packaged in throwaway containers and come with fancy price tags.



Better: Make real pudding from organic milk and flavorings, or try other traditional cooked puddings and pour them into small jars to grab when you need them. You can make flavored Jello-style desserts by dissolving 1 packet of unflavored gelatin (or 1 teaspoon of agar powder if you're vegetarian) in one cup of warmed fruit juice and adding one cup of cold juice to make a total of 2 cups. (Use 2 packets of gelatin to make jiggly shapes.) Add bits of fresh fruit if you'd like, pour into small containers, and chill until set.

Often the only fruit in fruit rolls and "snacks" are in the picture on the package, and most such products contain lots of high-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors.



Better: Pack fresh whole fruit, fruit slices, dried fruit, or homemade fruit leather.

Rich in high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, white flour, and preservatives to keep them "fresh," these items are guaranteed to send the eater into sugar shock, destined to drop into a semi-stupor a few hours later (when checking labels, steer clear of these 10 sneaky names for sugar).



Better: Pack dried fruits or fruit and nut bars as sweet lunch treats. For occasional treats, buy boxes of organic cookies and pack 100 calories' worth (often about three cookies) in small containers, or make your own baked treats and package small servings of them.

Yogurt is a great food, except after the food industry gets hold of it and adds excessive amounts of sweeteners, colors, and artificial flavors.



Better: Buy plain or lightly sweetened organic yogurt by the quart and pack it in small containers with fresh fruit, chopped dry fruit, or a little fruit spread. (Just be sure to avoid these 6 worst yogurt add-ins.)

Easy and healthy-sounding, these plastic-swathed six-packs of cracker sandwiches are cheap for a reason: They contain little real food and lots of hidden sugars, fats, and preservatives (and fake cheese isn't even one of these 7 grossest foods you're eating without realizing it).



Better: Make your own cracker sandwiches with whole-grain crackers and organic nut or seed butter, soft cheese, or your own cheese spread. Make cheddar spread by blending 8 ounces of grated sharp cheddar with 4 tablespoons of softened organic butter. Make a bunch of cracker sandwiches and store them in the fridge, grabbing a few to pack in your lunch every day.

Potato chips, corn chips, cheese puffs, and the like are high in salt, fats, and calories. Even pretzels made from refined white flour are a less-than-optimal snack choice.



Better: For a little salty crunch, pack a few ounces of lightly salted nuts, homemade lightly seasoned bagel or baked corn chips, real veggie chips (here are 5 easy, delicious ways to make your own veggie chips), or whip up a batch of kale chips.

Most bottled waters are nothing more than tap water packaged in throwaway plastic, but priced 1,900 times higher than tap, according to the Environmental Working Group.



Better: Invest in a reusable water bottle, and you'll pay off your investment after about two months, depending on the brand of bottled water you buy and how much you drink. (Our friends at Bicycling.com have this cool vintage-looking set of two reusable bottles that are BPA-free.)

Sweetened beverages are a huge source of hidden calories, and those sweetened with artificial sweeteners have downsides as well (Need proof? Here are 8 things that happen to your body when you finally stop drinking diet soda.). Plus, many beverages are loaded with artificial colors and flavors and come in throwaway single-serve containers.



Better: If you want the taste and nutrition of fruit, eat fruit! It's full of fiber and won't make your blood sugar spike. To quench your thirst and keep yourself hydrated when you don't have access to good tap water during the day, pack plain water, tea, or coffee in a reusable bottle (keep your H20 interesting with these 25 slimming sassy water recipes).


Watch the video: Ο ΠΑΙΔΙΑΤΡΟΣ ΑΠΟΣΤΟΛΟΣ ΖΕΡΒΑΣ ΣΤΟ ΑΝΑΤΡΕΠΤΙΚΟ ΔΕΛΤΙΟ. 21082021 (August 2022).