Packing a healthy school lunch

August 30, 2010 3:17:23 AM PDT
A brown bag lunch is only healthy if your kids actually eat it.

Convincing your kids that fruits and vegetables are better than chips and soda is not as hard as you might think.

The YMCA Manhattan McBurney branch offers a summer cooking camp in Chelsea.

Kids ages 4 to 12 learn how to make their own school lunches.

Chef Mikey Price from Market Table Restaurant volunteers his time with the kids.

He says first things first, avoid white breads and opt for whole grains.

"Sometimes when you make a sandwich the bread gets really soggy, and I don't like soggy bread. Do you guys like soggy bread?" Chef Price asked the kids.

"No!" the children yelled.

The classes sell out fast because parents realize how important it is for their kids. The staff does too, and the kids love the food.

When building a sandwich, Price says look for healthy substitutes like an herb spread instead of mayonnaise.

"What we're going to do is put sliced turkey on that. A little bit of arugula. And then we have some really beautiful cantaloupe," Chef Price said.

"They get a chance to explore their interests, food and food preparation. But most important, they learn skills for a lifetime and we hope that they'll bring some of this back to their families," said John Rappaport, Executive Director of the McBurney YMCA.

"I like how he talked about how nutrition is really good for you and how it helps your body," said 9-year-old Zachary Chan.

Chef Price says there should always be a piece of a fruit in their lunch pail.

He also offers a trick to get kids to eat vegetables like carrots and celery.

"You don't want to eat a half a jar of Nutella, but if you eat a spoonful with a little bit of sliced apple, it's a really great snack at the end of a meal," Price said.