How to Add Whole Grains to Lunches


CerealSeptember has been proclaimed Whole Grains Month by the Whole Grains Council (who better to do it?). In honor of the event they are launching a new website and educational events, but, we were most intrigued by their “Top Ten School Lunch Ideas.”  These kid-tested favorites are of course adult-friendly too, and most were already dairy-free.  We made just a few slight modifications to meet with the Go Dairy Free mantra, and added a couple of comments along the way …

  1. Pack a baggie of popcorn for snack time. It is a 100 percent whole grain snack, easily made at home.
  2. Make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with whole white wheat bread. White wheat has all the nutrition of other whole wheat varieties, but a lighter color and milder flavor.
  3. Choose oatmeal-raisin cookies (gluten-free version) instead of chocolate chip for whole grain goodness.
  4. Pack multi-grain chips or whole grain pretzels instead of potato chips. Even whole grain cheese puffs are now available (go for the vegan Tings).
  5. Little hands find whole grain pita pockets easy to hold, and fillings, such as tuna fish salad, stay inside instead of dripping out.
  6. Whole grain oats are the first ingredient in most granola bars. Choose brands lower in sugar for whole grain benefits without approaching candy-bar levels of sweetness.
  7. Whole grain bagels or square bagel breads make an ordinary sandwich seem special.
  8. Share cooking fun with your children and bake one of the many whole grain mixes now on grocery shelves, from cranberry-orange muffins to cinnamon buns (for whole grain goodness, we like the vegan mixes from Goodbaker, for gluten-free, see our baking mix reviews). Or, make family favorites using whole grain ingredients, such as brown rice crispy cereal and whole wheat flour. (Try the kid-tested zucchini bars using whole wheat flour!)
  9. Make trail mix by combining dried fruit bits with whole grain cereal.
  10. Whole wheat, multi-grain and whole-corn tortillas make easy wraps.

The Whole Grain Stamp (shown below), now found on about 1,400 supermarket products throughout the nation guarantees that the product contains a half-serving (8 g) or more of whole grains per serving. According to USDA 2005 Dietary Guidelines, children ages 4-8 should eat 2 to 4 servings of whole grains daily, while everyone nine and older should eat 3 to 6 whole grain servings each day.

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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