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What can be substituted for lunch meats?Posted Wednesday, August 15, 2012, at 4:35 PM
Do you know mothers who do backflips while packing fun, kid-appealing lunches that their children gobble up? And their kids even respond, "You're the greatest mom! I appreciate all you did to feed me healthy."
That's certainly not the case in my house. My creativity doesn't extend too far: a wrap instead of a sandwich or cold leftover pizza. Most days, my child will have some type of sandwich in her lunchbox, along with milk, carrot sticks, and fruit. Frankly, that's about all she's willing to eat in the 15-20 minutes before recess--even with attempted backflips.
While I don't do backflips, I usually avoid lunch meats. Lunch meats tend to be preserved with sodium nitrites, sodium nitrates, salt, and other preservatives. Studies have shown regular consumption of preserved meats increases the risk of cancer--colorectal, pancreatic, and thyroid to name a few.
What can be substituted for lunch meats? Nuts and nut butters are a good source of protein and disease-fighting nutrients. Think beyond peanut butter and try almond butter or sunflower seed butter. Sunflower seed butter makes a great peanut butter substitute if your school has a nut free policy. Some other ways to pack some protein include tuna salad, chicken salad, egg salad, boiled eggs, cottage cheese, cheese, hummus, and bean dips.
When sending lunch meats, consider those marked "uncured" or "naturally preserved" without added sodium nitrites or sodium nitrates. A few brands without added sodium nitrates and sodium nitrites include Boar's Head, Applegate, and Oscar Mayer Deli Selects--but always read food labels and research questions.
When you need to rely on lunch meats preserved with sodium nitrites and sodium nitrates, pack a Vitamin C rich fruit or vegetable. Vitamin C helps block the formation of nitrosamines, cancer-causing compounds. Some Vitamin C rich foods include red peppers, broccoli, strawberries, oranges, tomatoes, cantaloupe, pineapple, and kiwi.
Kids may not say it now, but as research continues to emerge, one day they'll think, "You're the greatest mom! I appreciate all you did to feed me healthy." Then, if you can do a backflip, go for it!
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