Those of us that ate school lunches as children may have been scarred for life. We may, to this day, have nightmares consisting of grey mystery meat sandwiched between a soggy bun, “pizza” which is closer to congealed yellow cheese with red sauce on toast, canned vegetables and fruit cocktails consisting of vaguely identifiable fruit, as in, “Is that cube a pear or a pineapple?” Well, with adulthood, the nightmare may be over, but with our busy schedules, we might find our food options are still somewhat limited, and you may even find yourself having a not so pleasant deja vu, unless your idea of gourmet food is the gas station food shop.
You may have heard a lot about antioxidants lately. Antioxidants fight free radicals in your body and slow down the aging process. Sound good? Here are some ideas for putting them in your snacks and lunches! They definitely beat the creepy hot lunches and are a lot more healthful no matter who you’re packing for.
Trail mix nuts are a great source of antioxidants. Studies find walnuts can be 2-15 times more powerful than vitamin D when it comes to anti-oxidizing properties. Add in some dried cranberries and dark chocolate pieces for an added health and antioxidant bonus.
Who would have thought something so sinful could be so good for you! Unprocessed, raw cocoa beans are one of the highest scoring foods ever tested on the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC), the measure of antioxidant activity in food.
There is no end to the nutritional benefits of fruit. They are a delicious easy snack and are rich in antioxidants, with berries and red grapes leading the pack and so easy to add to the lunch bag.
How about some broccoli and tomato pizzas? Yum! Broccoli has antioxidants and Vitamin E and is very effective against breast cancer. Tomatoes have lycopene which prevents tumor growth. Top with ricotta or mozzarella. You choose!
Grape and Cheese Salad
Red grapes contain the mother load of resveratrol, yes, that red wine ingredient. Throw some walnuts on top for a crunchy way of getting melanin! And what would a salad be without the baby greens, packed with Vitamin C, Vitamin A and beta carotene? Eat up!
Roasted Spaghetti Squash, Tomatoes and Zucchini
Here’s one for the exotic veggie lover. The Vitamin A in the squash will fight off the effects of aging and the zucchini has lutein for healthy eyes. Leave the skin on the zucchini- it has beta carotene. Great substitute for a carb-rich pasta dish.
Avocado Bean Wrap
Have you died and gone to heaven? You’ve got black beans and avocados and carrots which mean plenty of immune supporting compounds like betacarotene and vitamin E. Is your mouth watering?
Mangia! Try a recipe with kale, the super-food with vitamin A and C. Throw in cherry tomatoes and garlic, packed with disease-fighting antioxidants and your choice of cheeses.
Enjoy and stay young and keep the school lunch ghoulies away!