Less Fat, Still Ono

By Barbara Burke
and Joannie Dobbs

Wednesday, August 25, 1999

Good eating helps
student make grade

It's back to school time. Eager for success, students begin the year with a backpack full of sharpened pencils and new composition books, perhaps even a high tech calculator or other fancy supplies. But are your children also nutritionally prepared to learn? If they are going off to school without getting a nutritious breakfast, lunch and dinner each day, then your child is not likely getting the most out of school.

"Well nourished children learn better," says Barbara McLaurin of the Mississippi State University School of Human Sciences. "Their attention span becomes longer. They avoid getting a headache or stomachache. A child who feels better, learns better." She notes children who don't eat breakfast "work slower, are not as accurate and don't remember as much information."

While breakfast is often touted as the most important meal of the day, good nutrition at every meal is essential for children to achieve their best. They need a healthy lunch to give them the energy and mental alertness for their afternoon classes. A nutritious snack after school can help them with their homework. A well balanced diet may even help boost their performance in extracurricular activities, like sports and band.

Several specific nutrients have direct effects on brain function, thinking ability and memory, according to Elizabeth Somer, author of "Food and Mood." These nutrients include antioxidants (beta carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E), B vitamins, iron and choline. Fruits, vegetables and whole grain breads and cereals are good sources of these nutrients.

Using salsa, mustard, and other low-fat condiments can change a high fat food into a "smart" food. Here are two quick and easy examples:


Brainy Bagel Sandwich

1 vegetarian garden burger, (flavor of your choice)
1 medium large bagel of your choice
4 tablespoons salsa
1 tablespoon shredded cheddar cheese
3 lettuce leaves, rinsed

Run the frozen burger under water and place on a plate. Microwave on high heat for about 1 minute. Meanwhile slice the bagel and top with salsa and cheese. Microwave for about 20 seconds. Combine burger, bagel, and lettuce.

Approximate nutritional information: 700 calories, 9 grams total fat, 3 grams saturated fat, 10 milligrams cholesterol, and 1250 milligrams sodium*


Smart Mexi Wrap

1-10 inch low-fat flour tortilla
1/3 cup low-fat refried baked beans
1/2 skinless, roasted chicken breast, cubed (about 2 ounces)
2 tablespoons sliced ripe olives
2 tablespoons nonfat sour cream

Place beans in a small bowl and stir with 1 tablespoon water. Lay cubed chicken on top and sprinkle with a little water. Place in the microwave for about 1 minute. Set aside.

Place tortilla on a plate and microwave for 30 to 60 seconds depending on the microwave. You want the tortilla to be soft but not doughy.

Remove plate and spread with heated beans and chicken. Top with sour cream and olives and roll.

Approximate nutritional information: 430 calories, 9 grams total fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 60 milligrams cholesterol, and 840 milligrams sodium*

Barbara Burke is a Hawaii-Pacific University instructor who has been teaching
and writing about food and nutrition since 1975.

Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S., is a food and nutrition consultant
and owner of Exploring New Concepts, a nutritional consulting firm.
She is also responsible for the nutritional analyses
indicated by an asterisk in this section.

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