Kick off the new school year with a powerful protein punch

The start of a new school year is a good time for parents to encourage healthy eating habits for children – and themselves. It’s important for parents to model healthy eating, especially when it comes to school lunches and snacks.

As a start, smart grocery shopping must be a priority. While healthy meal options are important, snacks play a big role - especially after-school snacking. After a full day at school, kids come home and look for something to tide them over until dinner time. Make sure apples and peanut butter, along with inshell or shelled peanuts, are on your shopping list. These nutritious and kid-friendly snacks will provide them with the energy they need between snack time and dinner and satiate their appetites.

According to a recent article in Canadian Grocer, more consumers are looking for value in their snacks.1 Data from the 2011 National Confectioners Association’s Sweets and Snacks Expo in Chicago indicates consumers want value, exciting flavours and nutrition.

Also of interest at the expo, snacks continued to represent an affordable indulgence for consumers during times of economic uncertainty. In fact, confectionery and salty snacks rank as the fourth and sixth largest product categories in overall food sales, respectively, and first and second among snack foods. The association’s research also showed that consumers are seeking out snacks that offer natural and added nutrients and appreciate the unique role confectionery and snacks have in their lives.

Parents can struggle to find lunch and snack options that are healthy, portable and hold value. The good news is that they don’t have far to look. Peanuts, particularly in-shell peanuts, are a perfect lunch and snack choice. They’re chock full of protein, fibre, essential vitamins and minerals. They’re also cholesterol- and sodium-free. And, according to an article in La Semaine, you can’t eat too many peanuts. A quarter cup of peanuts is like one-to- two daily portions of meat, so you’re left feeling full and satisfied.2

While nuts are great for a healthy and delicious snack, they have also recently been found to provide health benefits to those who suffer from health conditions, specifically Type 2 diabetes. A recent article published in The Globe and Mail discusses scientific evidence that points to the benefits of including nuts in your diet. The new study conducted by David Jenkins, director or the Risk Factor Modification Centre at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, found that eating about half a cup of nuts each day can help people with diabetes lower their blood glucose and cholesterol levels.3

Remember, peanuts aren’t seasonal and don’t take the summer off. They work hard for you all year ‘round!

1Canadian Grocer, May 30, 2011
2La Semaine, June 11, 2011
3Globe and Mail, July 12, 2011