As kids go back to school, they're depending on the school cafeteria or a brown bag lunch packed for convenience. But the most convenient food isn't always the most nutritious.
Dr. Michael Roizen of the Cleveland Clinic appeared on "Good Morning America" this morning to talk about the five foods that your child shouldn't have for lunch -- and the healthy alternatives.
The foods parents feed their children should demonstrate proper nutrition, provide energy and promote good health, he added.
CLICK HERE for Dr. Roizen's recipe for Better Chicken Fingers.
Don't Eat: Croissant Breakfast Sandwiches, up to 900 calories and 65 grams of fat.
Roizen gives this an "F" for fattening, calling this sandwich a complete disaster. Prepackaged ham or sausage plus cheese on a croissant allows schools without kitchens to serve students a hot breakfast using minimal equipment, but this convenience comes at a cost, Roizen said.
Roizen Recommends: English muffin sandwich, up to 330 calories and 16 grams of fat.
In just three minutes you can whip up this healthy breakfast sandwich for your children with Roizen's recipe: split and toast a whole-grain English muffin. Spray a ramekin or Pyrex custard cup with a nonstick spray and fill it with one cracked egg. Scramble and microwave for 30 to 45 seconds. Top one half of the toasted muffin with the cooked egg and top with the other half to make a sandwich.
Add sliced tomato, baby spinach or another vegetable for extra credit!
From weight to sleep to scheduling, get advice from Dr. Roizen and other Cleveland Clinic experts on keeping your kids healthy at http://www.360-5.com/kids
Don't Eat: Doughnut, up to 300 calories, lots of refined grains and sweeteners such as high-fructose corn syrup.
The sweeteners will give you child a sugar crash later in the day, Roizen said. He warned that sometimes doughnuts are billed as being "fortified" with sprinkles, but pointed out that so-called fortification was because the sprinkles had vitamin A.
Roizen Recommends: Whole grain bagel, great source of iron, fiber and protein.
Serve your child a whole grain bagel with natural peanut butter. It's a great way to get healthy fiber, good fat and protein.
For extra credit, have your child wash down the bagel with low-fat milk. That way, your child will get a healthy dose of calcium, which is often lacking with children opt out of breakfast cereals.
Don't Eat: Processed lunch meats, which carry increased risk of heart disease and cancer.
Parents may have warm memories of crustless bologna sandwiches on white bread, but children are better off without meats that have been cured, smoked or salted. Roizen said processed meats such as bologna and salami are some of the worst things that a person can eat. That's because the preservatives with which they're made stay with people for life and are proven to increase risks for both heart disease and cancer.
Roizen Recommends: Trade luncheon meats for unprocessed ones such as turkey breast or roast beef for a low-fat boost of protein with 100 percent whole grain bread and a little lettuce or tomato.
Don't Eat: Chicken nuggets, low-quality meat with saturated fat and high sodium.
Chicken nuggets are a popular choice in high school cafeterias, but nuggets are generally made with low-quality meat and are loaded with heart-unhealthy sodium and cholesterol-raising saturated fat, Roizen said.
Roizen Recommends: Better-quality chicken nuggets. Find a brand that uses lean chicken and whole-grain breading. Oven bake them the night before, chill them, pack them and send the package to school with an ice pack, he added.
Don't Eat: Jellied fruit cups, full of added sugar and chemicals.
Popular gelatin fruit cups may be portable and kid-friendly, and the fruit within might be packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber -- but the gelatin is packed with sugar and artificial coloring.
Roizen Recommends: Go "old school" with fruit in the lunch box, but make it fun, Roizen said. He recommended that you freeze grapes or mango chunks the night before, pack them with ice and send them along for your child's lunch, or make fruit skewers. You could spear melon chunks and strawberries -- or other fruit that you prefer -- on a shish kebab stick.
For extra credit, send your Disney-loving daughter to school with fruit in a princess-themed cup. A recent study from Yale University showed that 50 percent of kids said food tasted better when it came in a package decorated with a cartoon character than it did in plain packaging.
Instead of: Ice cream
Have: Kefir or yogurt with live culture or spore bacteria
Instead of: Potato chips
Have: Baby carrots or celery sticks, or cut up fruit with lemon spray on them
Instead of: Fried foods
Have: Grilled, baked, or roasted foods
Instead of: Chocolate chip cookies
Have: 1/2 ounce high-quality dark chocolate
Instead of: Potato chips
Have: Air-popped popcorn
Instead of: M&M's
Have: Edamame beans
Instead of: Toffee, caramel
Have: Nuts or or cut-up fruit
Instad of: Cheez Doodles
Have: Low-fat string cheese, walnuts
Instead of: Corn chips
Have: 100 percent whole grain pretzel sticks, celery sticks, or cut-up apples
Instead of: Store-bought salad dressing
Have: Extra-virgin olive oil and either vinegar or lemon juice or both