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Whole Grain Benefits

7 Lunch Foods That Can Improve Your Kid’s Focus At School



Children’s academic performance (and overall satisfaction) in a school setting depends on a variety of factors, and proper nutrition is critical.

In addition to a well-rounded breakfast and healthy snacks, children of all ages need lunch that will both fill them and provide the fuel to get them through an eight-hour day of school (plus all extracurricular activities). Certain lunch options can even help keep children focused throughout the school day, maximizing their academic potential.

We asked nutritionists what foods they would recommend most for a productivity-focused school lunch, and they made these seven tasty and nutritious suggestions.

Segment and package your child’s citrus fruits to make school eating easier.

1. Oranges

If your child likes fruit, an orange is an ideal school snack or ingredient for lunch. “Oranges are a fantastic source of vitamin C, which is not only an antioxidant but has also been shown to improve focus, focus, and memory,” said Matt Scarfo, a certified trainer who specializes in fitness nutrition. “In fact, just one full-size orange can take up almost a full day of your recommended vitamin C intake, making it a great option for a simple, light snack to toss in a lunch box full of nutrients. ” Vitamin C also supports a healthy immune system, which is more important now than ever when kids go back to school.

“Concentrating and concentrating is a challenge in itself when children are healthy; it’s even harder when they’re dealing with the symptoms of a cold or flu, and especially tough when they’re working extra hard to catch up after a few days, ”noted Scarfo. “Getting the right micronutrients from a healthy, whole-food snack like an orange is a great way to avoid that risk.”

As an alternative, you can give your child a can of orange juice as long as it is 100% orange juice with no added sugar. “Including 100% OJ as a drink provides children with essential nutrients like vitamin C,” said Lauren Manaker, a registered nutritionist and cookbook author. “The data also shows that children who drink 100% OJ tend to be more physically active than non-OJ drinkers.”

2. Canned salmon

With an emphasis on plant-based foods and omega-3 fatty acids, the Mediterranean diet is a huge hit with adults seeking a healthier lifestyle. Fortunately, many of the same principles of the Mediterranean diet apply to school lunches, which can encourage academic focus.

Specifically, nutritionist Monica Auslander Moreno said that canned salmon “would offer benefits in terms of cognition and brain development, which could then have an impact on school performance”. She suggests spreading it on sprouted bread with diced celery, onions, and mustard.

“Salmon is one of the fish with the highest concentration of omega-3s – and canned salmon is a great alternative to canned tuna with less mercury,” added Moreno. “Omega-3 fatty acids are critical to brain growth. The addition of onions and celery would provide prebiotic fiber to probiotic nourish the gut microbiome and possibly support the immune system, and a mustard coating can fight inflammation from the turmeric it contains. The sprouted bread is a good choice when it comes to nutritious fiber and B vitamins and less added sugar than conventional bread from the supermarket. “

Roast beef is a good source of iron and zinc, which can help maintain focus.

Roast beef is a good source of iron and zinc, which can help maintain focus.

3. roast beef

An ideal school lunch includes a balanced selection of products from a variety of food groups, including healthy carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, and proteins. Protein can be obtained through many different foods, but nutritionist Brenna Thompson does recommends roast beef especially for school children.

“There are two minerals that children need for good concentration: iron and zinc. Many children lack that. A good source of both is beef. Send kids a roast beef sandwich or pita bag to give them a good balance between protein and carbohydrates, ”Thompson said.

4. Walnuts and fresh blueberries

As an easy and tasty alternative to store-bought trail mixes (which often appear with school lunches), pediatric nutritionist Aubrey Phelps recommends a mixture of walnuts and fresh blueberries.

“This is a great snack or lunch addition,” she said. “The healthy omega fats in walnuts are great for brain health, and the fat and protein keep kids feeling full and prevent blood sugar spikes and drops that can lead to headaches and difficulty concentrating. The blueberries are full of antioxidants that help the body function properly so that children can stay focused. They also add a natural sweetness. “

5. A bLack of bean and vegetable burrito

Packed with protein and vitamins, a black bean and roasted vegetable filled burrito is a smart and filling substitute for a meat-based lunch sandwich.

An important factor in keeping your child focused at school is packing a lunch that will provide them with sustainable energy throughout the day, ”says nutritionist Nicole Stefanow. “A great lunch option is a black bean and roasted brown rice burrito. According to a 2016 study, plant-based proteins like beans and peas can be even more filling than animal-based protein. Because they contain both protein and fiber, beans add stamina to your meal. “

6. ‘Dips and sticks’

From middle school age onwards, my children always packed their lunches themselves, because responsibility for their diet strengthens and strengthens their importance, ”said Stacey Krawczyk, registered nutritionist. When it comes to the “biggest hits” of their kids’ lunch, Krawcyzk emphasizes a snack that is both nutritious and interactive: “Bean dips, guacamole, nut butters and more are great for fiber, healthy fats and proteins and as well To deliver “sticks”. are a great nutrient-rich pairing, whether made from vegetables (carrots, celery, jicama, peppers, etc.), cereals (pretzels, wholegrain crackers, pita chips, etc.) or fruits (apples, pears, etc.). The more colorful the better! “

Replace sugary jellies and jams with fresh berries in a nut butter sandwich.

Replace sugary jellies and jams with fresh berries in a nut butter sandwich.

7. Sandwiches with almond butter and berries

Instead of the classic PB&J, nutrition specialist and author DR. Gena E. Up likes the equally tasty but nutritionally superior “AB&B”.

Upgrade old-school peanut butter and jelly to make almond butter and berries! Use almond butter on a whole grain bread with seeds with pureed blueberries or thinly sliced ​​strawberries instead of sugary jam, ”said Kadar.

“Almonds are high in essential nutrients and fats that support brain health,” said Kadar. “The berries provide polyphenols that have been proven to support memory. Seeds also support brain health as they are high in iron, zinc, and vitamin E. The fiber in wholemeal bread also helps regulate blood sugar, the preferred source of energy for brain cells. “

More tips

Stay away from processed and prepackaged items.

While snack packs of chips, cookies, and chewy candies have been a crowd puller for generations, according to the nutritionist and medical advisor, they won’t do much to support your child’s alertness and energy throughout the school day Heather Hanks. “Although easy to package, these snacks are often the worst foods you can give your kids as they are full of inflammatory ingredients that negatively affect brain function, such as refined sugar, gluten, processed grains, hydrogenated oils, Food colors and dyes, ”said Hanks.

For younger children, the playful presentation of healthy foods can make a world of difference.

If you’re encouraging picky kids (especially young picky kids) to try something different, nutritionist Katie Thomson is recommends “present eating in a playful way. [It could be sliced] like ‘sushi’, served in bento box style or cut into fun shapes. ”A prime example that Thomson loves is“ ‘SB&J Sushi’, prepared with sunflower seed butter and jam or whole berries / banana spread on a whole grain tortilla, rolled up and cut like sushi. It’s fun, peanut and tree nut free for school, and provides fiber, protein and healthy fats for lasting energy. “

Take some time to find out about the lunch options in the cafeteria at your child’s school.

Don’t automatically assume that the meals served in your child’s cafeteria are not up to date in terms of nutritional value. Indeed, nutritionist Molly Pass tells us that “School feeding programs across the country are working really hard to provide good nutrition and a variety of tasty foods for children.” If you are hesitant, Pass recommends that you “have lunch with your child one day to experience the meal, gain more confidence in the meals, and teach your child what a good lunch looks like.”

Whole Grain Benefits

For the 55-and-over crowd, March 27-April 3, 2022 | Local News



For information about services available to older adults, contact Pam Jacobsen, director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and Helen Mary Stevick Senior Citizens Center, 2102 Windsor Place, C, at 217-359-6500.

RSVP and the Stevick Center are administered by Family Service of Champaign County.


  • Active Senior Republicans in Champaign County’s monthly meeting will be held at 9:30 am on April 4 in the Robeson Pavilion Room A & B at the Champaign Public Library. This month’s speakers will be Jesse Reising, Regan Deering and Matt Hausman, Republican primary candidates for the newly redrawn 13th Congressional District.
  • Parkland Theater House needs four ushers each night for “The SpongeBob Musical,” opening April 14. There will be nine shows in total — April 14-16, April 22-24 and April 29-May 1. For details, call or email Michael Atherton, Parkland Theater House Manager, or 217-373-3874.
  • Parkland College also needs four volunteers for commencement. The commencement ceremony will be in person at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at 8 pm May 12. Volunteers needed from 6:30 to 8 pm For details, contact Tracy Kleparski, Director of Student Life, at or 217- 351-2206.
  • The Milford High School National Honor Society and Student Council is hosting a Senior Citizens Banquet at 6 pm April 22. The event will be held in the MAPS #124 Gymnasium (park at south doors at Milford High School. To RSVP, call Sandy Potter at 815-471-4213.


Knit or crochet for those in need:

Meditative Movement with Yoga:

  • 9 to 10:15 am Tuesdays and Thursdays.


  • 11 am to noon, second and fourth Tuesdays. Call 217-359-6500.


  • Noon to 3 pm Thursdays.


Card game 13:

  • To sign up to play, call 217-359-6500 and ask for Debbie.

Men’s group:

  • 9 am Monday-Friday. Join us for a cup of coffee and great conversation.


The Peace Meal Nutrition Program provides daily hot lunches at 11:30 am for a small donation and a one-day advance reservation at sites in Champaign, Urbana, Rantoul, Sidney (home delivery only), Mahomet (home delivery only) and Homer.

For reservations, call 800-543-1770. Reservations for Monday need to be made by noon Friday.

NOTE: There is no change for home deliveries, but at congregate sites, you can get a carry-out meal.


  • BBQ pork sandwich, mini potato bakers, corn, creamy cole slaw, bun.


  • Turkey pot roast with carrots and celery, Italian green beans, pineapple, whole grain roll.


  • Savory sausage stew, broccoli, chunky apple sauce, biscuit, surprise dessert.


  • Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and brown gravy, tomatoes and zucchini, apricots, whole-grain roll.


  • Chef’s choice — regional favorites will be served.


If you are 55 and older and want to volunteer in your community, RSVP (funded by AmeriCorps Seniors and the Illinois Department on Aging) provides a unique link to local nonprofits needing help. We offer support, benefits and a safe connection to partner sites.

Contact Pam Jacobsen at or 217-359-6500.


Senior Volunteers.

  • RSVP of Champaign, Douglas and Piatt counties/AmeriCorps Senior Volunteers is your link to over 100 nonprofit organizations. Please contact Pam Jacobsen at or call 217-359-6500 for volunteer information.

Food for seniors. Handlers needed to unload boxes of food for repackaging at 7 am on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. We are looking for backup delivery drivers to deliver food to seniors. Contact Robbie Edwards at 217-359-6500 for info.

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Whole Grain Benefits

The future of nutrition advice



By Lisa Drayer, CNN

(CNN) — Most of us know we should eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

So why would the National Institutes of Health spend $150 million to answer questions such as “What and when should we eat?” and “How can we improve the use of food as medicine?”

The answer may be precision nutrition, which aims to understand the health effects of the complex interplay among genetics, our microbiome (the bacteria living in our gut), our diet and level of physical activity, and other social and behavioral characteristics.

That means that everyone could have their own unique set of nutritional requirements.

How is that possible? I asked three experts who conduct precision nutrition research: Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology and chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, and Martha Field and Angela Poole, both assistant professors in the division of nutritional sciences at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology.

Below is an edited version of our conversation.

CNN: How is precision nutrition different from current nutrition advice?

dr Frank Hu: The idea of ​​precision nutrition is to have the right food, at the right amount, for the right person. Instead of providing general dietary recommendations for everyone, this precision approach tailors nutrition recommendations to individual characteristics, including one’s genetic background, microbiome, social and environmental factors, and more. This can help achieve better health outcomes.

CNN: Why is there no one-size-fits-all prescription when it comes to what we should be eating?

Huh: Not everyone responds to the same diet in the same way. For example, given the same weight-loss diet, some people can lose a lot of weight; other people may gain weight. A recent study in JAMA randomized a few hundred overweight individuals to a healthy low-carb or low-fat diet. After a year, there was almost an identical amount of weight loss for the two groups, but there was a huge variation between individuals within each group — some lost 20 pounds. Others gained 10 pounds.

Martha Field: Individuals have unique responses to diet, and the “fine adjust” of precision nutrition is understanding those responses. This means understanding interactions among genetics, individual differences in metabolism, and responses to exercise.

CNN: How do we eat based on precision nutrition principles now?

Huh: There are some examples of personalized diets for disease management, like a gluten-free diet for the management of celiac disease, or a lactose-free diet if you are lactose intolerant. For individuals with a condition known as PKU (phenylketonuria), they should consume (a) phenylalanine-free diet. It’s a rare condition but a classic example of how your genes can influence what type of diets you should consume.

Angela Poole: If I had a family history of high cholesterol, diabetes or colon cancer, I would increase my dietary fiber intake, eating a lot of different sources, including a variety of vegetables.

fields: If you have high blood pressure, you should be more conscious of sodium intake. Anyone with a malabsorption issue might have a need for higher levels of micronutrients such as B vitamins and some minerals.

CNN: There is research showing that people metabolize coffee differently. What are the implications here?

Huh: Some people carry fast caffeine-metabolizing genes; others carry slow genes. If you carry fast (metabolizing) genotypes, you can drink a lot of caffeinated coffee because caffeine is broken down quickly. If you are a slow metabolizer, you get jittery and may not be able to sleep if you drink coffee in the afternoon. If that’s the case, you can drink decaf coffee and still get the benefits of coffee’s polyphenols, which are associated with decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes without the effects of caffeine.

CNN: How much of a role do our individual genes play in our risk of disease? And can our behavior mitigate our disease risk?

Huh: Our health is affected by both genes and diets, which constantly interact with each other because certain dietary factors can turn on or off some disease-related genes. We published research showing that reducing consumption of sugary beverages can offset the negative effects of obesity genes. That’s really good news. Our genes are not our destiny.

Another area of ​​precision nutrition is to measure blood or urine metabolites, small molecules produced during the breakdown and ingestion of food. For example, having a higher concentration of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) strongly predicts one’s future risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The blood levels of BCAAs depend on individuals’ diet, genes and gut microbiome. We found that eating a healthy (Mediterranean-style) diet can mitigate harmful effects of BCAAs on cardiovascular disease. So measuring BCAAs in your blood may help to evaluate your risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease and encourage dietary changes that can lower the risk of chronic diseases down the road.

fields: The environmental effects can sometimes be on the same magnitude as the genetic effects with respect to risk for disease.

CNN: Our individual microbiomes may be able to dictate what type of diet we should be consuming. Can you tell us about this emerging research? And what do you think of microbiome tests?

Poole: Research has shown that in some people, their blood sugar will spike higher from eating bananas than from eating cookies, and this has been associated with microbiome composition. Scientists have used microbiome data to build algorithms that can predict an individual’s glucose response, and this is a major advance. But that’s not an excuse for me to shovel down cookies instead of bananas. Likewise, if the algorithm suggests eating white bread instead of whole-wheat bread due to blood glucose responses, I wouldn’t just eat white bread all the time.

At the moment, I’m not ready to spend a lot of money to see what’s in my gut microbiome… and the microbiome changes over time.

Huh: Microbiome tests are not cheap, and the promise that this test can help develop a personalized meal plan that can improve blood sugar and blood cholesterol … at this point, the data are not conclusive.

CNN: How will nutrition advice be different 10 years from now?

Poole: I think you will receive a custom-tailored grocery list on an app — foods that you want to buy and foods that you want to avoid, based on your blood sugar responses to foods, your level of physical activity and more.

Huh: We will have more and better biomarkers and more affordable and accurate nutrigenomics and microbiome tests as well as better computer algorithms that predict your response to food intakes.

But these technologies cannot substitute general nutrition principles such as limiting sodium and added sugar and eating more healthy plant foods. In a few years, you may be able to get a more useful response from Alexa if you ask her what you should eat — but like other answers from Alexa, you’ll have to take it with a grain of salt.

The CNN Wire
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Whole Grain Benefits

Are Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches Healthy?



In order to assess its nutritional value, first we must discuss the breakdown of this sandwich.

Typically, there are three main ingredients — bread, peanut butter, and jelly — each with different nutritional values.

Nutritional value of bread

Bread can be a part of a balanced diet. The nutritional value of bread depends on the type chosen.

For starters, whole-grain bread is the best option because it provides a higher amount of nutrients. Whole grain kernels have three parts: the bran, endosperm, and germ (1).

Because whole grain bread retains all three parts, it’s higher in protein and fiber compared with other breads. These nutrients slow the absorption of sugar into your blood stream and keep you full longer (2, 3).

Whole grain bread is also richer in key nutrients, like B vitamins, iron, folate, and magnesium. Look for the word “whole” as part of the first ingredient in bread’s nutritional label (2).

Choosing sprouted grain bread, like Ezekiel bread, is also an excellent choice. The sprouting process increases digestibility and bioavailability of nutrients. Studies show sprouted bread has more fiber, vitamin E, and vitamin C, and beta-glucan (4).

Sourdough bread is fine, too. Although it’s not as high in fiber and protein, it has a lower glycemic index than white bread.

Glycemic index measures how quickly food increases blood sugars. In general, foods with a lower glycemic index better support your overall health.

But keep in mind that glycemic index doesn’t tell the whole story. We must look at the meal as a whole — for example, what we add to the bread. Nutrients, like protein and fats, can help lower the overall glycemic load of a meal, and serving sizes also play a role (5).

As a guideline, look for whole grain breads that offer at least 2 grams of fiber per slice. We also suggest using bread that contains 3 grams of protein or more per slice.

If that’s not available, sourdough bread may be your next best option.


Choose breads that are higher in fiber and protein, like whole grain bread or sprouted grain bread. These varieties help slow absorption of sugars and keep you full longer.

Nutritional value of peanut butter

Many people find peanut butter delicious.

Nutritionally, it also delivers. Peanut butter is a good source of protein and healthy fats, important for all stages of life, especially growing children. Plus, it’s a good source of fiber.

Two tablespoons (32 grams) of smooth peanut butter contain 7 grams of protein, 16 grams of fats, and 2 grams of fiber (6).

Importantly, the majority of fats in peanut butter are unsaturated fats. Research consistently indicates that replacing saturated fats found in animal products with more unsaturated fats (like those in peanut butter) may lower cholesterol and improve heart health (7, 8).

For growing kids, healthy fats are vital for healthy development. Plus, fats help absorb the vitamins A, D, E, and K, all of which play a synergistic role in supporting immune and brain health (9, 10).

Contrary to popular belief, conventional peanut butter doesn’t usually have more sugar than 100% natural peanut butter. However, it may have more salt (6).

When shopping, check the nutrition labels to ensure it doesn’t contain additional ingredients other than peanuts.

When enjoying natural peanut butter, the oil will separate from the peanut butter. Not to fret — just give it a good stir! This helps mix the oils with the solids.

Pro tip: You can store peanut butter upside down in the fridge to keep it from separating again!


When available, choose 100% natural peanut butter, as it’s lower in salt. Remember to stir the peanut butter before eating to mix the oils with the solids.

Nutritional value of jelly

The PB&J sandwich isn’t complete without jelly or jam. What’s the difference, anyway?

Well, while jellies and jams have similar nutritional value and taste, there’s a slight difference: Jellies are made with fruit juice, while jam is made with the fruit juice and pulp (7).

Both jellies and jams contain pectin (artificially added to jelly), which has prebiotic effects that may improve gut health (8).

However, both are naturally high in sugar, so enjoy them in moderation. To have more say in the ingredients used, you can try making your jelly at home.

If you’re buying from a store, look for jellies with no added sugar in the ingredients list. Alternative names for added sugars include glucose, sucrose, dextrose, and fructose.


Jellies are high in natural sugars and contain pectins that may have a beneficial effect in promoting good health. Try to choose jellies with no added sugars.

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