NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - It's back to school for students across Middle Tennessee and we know many of you parents pack your child's lunch.

Health experts say there are five key components to a healthy, well-balanced lunch for kids.

Registered Dietitian and Contributing Editor for Health magazine Cynthia Sass says parents should first include at least one serving of fruits or vegetables for vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.

"The next would be a source of lean protein,” Sass said. “That's going to keep kids fueled and focused throughout the rest of their school day."

Sass says kids also need a good source of healthy fat to help feel full, a source of healthy carbs for physical and mental energy, and a good-for-you treat to satisfy their sweet tooth.

For veggies, Sass recommends some sliced cucumbers, red bell peppers or carrots. For plant protein and healthy fat, you can also pack some hummus to dip the veggies in.

Sass says popcorn makes for a great source of healthy carbs, and for that healthy treat, recommends a gluten-free brownie or oatmeal chocolate chip cookie.

More healthy snack ideas for after school include:

  • Homemade smoothies with frozen fruit, oat milk, or even leafy greens
  • A salty snack like tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole
  • Energy balls made with nut butter, oats, cinnamon and chocolate chips

For more nutrition tips, pick up a copy of Health magazine or visit health.com.

Health magazine is owned by the Meredith Corporation, the parent company of WSMV. 

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