What's in a Fab 4 Under 4 Lunchbox: Fat Edition

Be Well Living
What's in a Fab 4 Under 4 Lunchbox: Fat Edition

It's time to serve up some healthy fats for back to school lunches! Adding a fat component to school lunch is not only important for a child's overall health, but it is my favorite way to add flavor and fun to their meal.

I want to emphasize the importance of choosing healthy fats, such as those found in avocados, nuts, seeds, olives, fatty fish, and plant oils like olive oil and coconut oil. These fats provide essential nutrients and contribute to overall health without increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease or other health problems associated with excessive intake of unhealthy fats, such as trans fats and saturated fats. Balancing fats with other macronutrients like protein, carbohydrates, and plenty of fruits and vegetables ensures a well-rounded and nutritious school lunch for children.

While it's important to be mindful of the types and amounts of fats children consume, incorporating healthy fats into their school lunches is beneficial for several reasons. Firstly, the brain is composed largely of fat, and dietary fats are crucial for optimal brain development and function, especially during childhood. They support cognitive function, memory, mood regulation, sustained energy levels throughout the day, which is crucial for children's active lifestyles and growing bodies.

Additionally, fats contribute to the feeling of fullness and satiety after a meal. Including healthy fats in school lunches can help children feel satisfied and prevent excessive hunger between meals, reducing the likelihood of unhealthy snacking. Here are my favorite healthy fats to incorporate into Fab Four lunches!

My Favorite Healthy Fats

An easy way to incorporate healthy fats into my kid's lunch box is using homemade dips, dressings, and healthy oils such as olive, avocado, and coconut oil. This not only increases the likelihood of my boys eating their protein and vegetables, but it also adds more plant nutrients to their plate.

    1. Guacamole: For dipping veggies, meat, burritos, or grain-free tortilla chips in. Whole Foods 365 single serving guacamole are a great addition to pair with my grain-free California burrito lunch box. Avocados are rich in vitamins C, E, K, and B6, as well as riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and potassium. They are also high in fiber to keep kids fuller for longer and improve digestion.
    2. Tahini or Hummus: Buy it made or try out my home-made Garlic Tahini recipe that you can add to a lunch box, paired with grain-free crackers or veggies. Tahini is high in fiber, protein, copper, phosphorus, and selenium, providing antioxidants and heart-healthy fats for your kids. If you are buying store-bought, opt for ones with minimal ingredients and without inflammatory oils such as safflower, sunflower, or canola oil.
    3. Seed or Nut butters: Wild Friends offers a variety of nut and seed butters with minimal ingredients. For nut-free schools, sunflower or pumpkin seed butter is a great source of protein, healthy fats, and magnesium. I like to pair nut and seed butters with fresh fruit to slow the digestion process of carbohydrates and limit glucose spikes.
    4. Black or Pinto Bean dip: Beans are an excellent source of plant protein protein, fat and fiber for kids who have a hard time with eating animal protein. Bean dips can also be served with chicken, in a burrito, with peppers, or Siete Foods grain-free chips.
    5. Avocado Oil Based Dressings: Mayo, ranch dressing, vinaigrettes, Ceasar, or any oil based dressing can be used as the fat source to dip protein or veggies in. They are a great way to add flavor to your kid's plate while increasing the fat content. Primal Kitchen Foods is my favorite because they don't add sugar and offer a wide range of condiments made with avocado oil. Primal Kitchen Foods also has dairy-free ranch and queso dips for kids who can't tolerate dairy.
    6. Dairy-Free Be Well Ranch Dressing: Most store bought dressings are laden with added sugars, inflammatory oils (vegetable, seed and canola oils), additives, gums, flavorings, fillers and other ingredients you may not be able to pronounce. In ten minutes, you can whip up a big, creamy batch of ranch dressing that pops with flavor from fresh herbs and only has good ingredients. Bonus, it stays good in the refrigerator for up to two weeks! Just give it a shake and you’re good to go.
Other sources of fat we love:
  • Green, Black, or Kalamata Olives - a phenomenal fat and fiber source. We love Thrive Market olive packs for school snacks!
  • If your kids eat capers, those are loaded with polyphenols and are an excellent source of fat. 
  • Mild Cheddar Cheese sticks, greek yogurt, and cottage cheese can also be used as the fat source, and add extra protein to a meal.
  • If you're kids eat animal protein, they are already getting phenomenal animal-derived fats that provide fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. I talk about the importance of these vitamins in my kid's nutrition course online.

    I'll normally serve up the protein and fat, and then get my boys involved with the fiber and greens. That’s up next!