Inside a Dietitian's Lunchbox

Each month, expert shares keys to packing a satisfying midday meal

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Summer is almost officially over. The days are getting shorter, yet it seems like your to-do list is getting longer. I understand how packing a proper lunch can be forgotten amidst the hectic "back-to-school" season. As a dietitian, people seek my advice about how to balance a healthy diet with a chaotic schedule. Every month, in this blog, I'll be asking a registered dietitian within my nutrition practice, Nutritious Life, what one of her favorite brown bag meals is and why. Read on to learn what Stacia is packing up for lunch, and pick up some healthful tips from an expert!

Keri Glassman
Keri Glassman
What's the deal with the meal?

• Almond butter and jelly sandwich on 100 percent whole-wheat bread with sliced bananas

• Sugar snap peas

NL: Sounds like a gourmet version of the classic PB&J. What was the inspiration?

S: One of the great things about September is that it's back-to-school month. My kids are home from summer camp and the family is reunited. This also means hectic mornings—I make lunch for myself and for my three kids. For convenience I like to try and kill two birds with one stone ... well, four birds with one stone, really. Rather than making separate "kid" lunches, I choose healthy foods that we all like to eat. This sandwich is super simple to throw together; I'm talking prep time of maybe two minutes. Rather than eating a banana as a snack, I like to slice it up and put it into the sandwich—and my kids love this too! I try to make my own "jelly" by mashing up fresh strawberries. If I don't have fresh fruit around, I use spreads that are made with whole fruits and aren't sweetened artificially. As for the sugar snap peas, I usually have loads of these in my fridge because they're one of the only vegetables that all of my children like to eat. There's really nothing easier than throwing a handful of them in a reusable snack bag. No prep, no mess, no-brainer!

NL: Why did you choose almond butter over peanut butter?

S: I wouldn't say I chose one over the other. I love both of them, so I try and switch them up every so often. Research shows that eating both of these nut butters reduces the risk of developing heart disease. Peanuts and almonds are filled with heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats help lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol and maintain your HDL (good) cholesterol. Heart disease runs in my family, so it is important for me to follow a heart-healthy diet. These guys are also good sources of protein, which keeps me satisfied through most of the afternoon. (That's great news for me, since working in a dietitian's office = lots of food gets sent to us = a dangerous place to be hungry!) Almond butter especially is a good source of both calcium and magnesium, which help to maintain bone and dental health. It's a great, non-dairy way to sneak in a little bit of calcium for kids (and moms). What better way to give it to them than in a sandwich they already love?

NL: Anything you would have done differently?

S: I don't think so. This lunch is great because I can start with the first half of my sandwich and save the second half for when I'm hungry again a few hours later. Plus the sugar snap peas usually sit on my desk and I nosh on them throughout the day. It makes me feel like a kid all over again.

Hungry for more? Write to eatandrun@usnews.com with your questions, concerns, and feedback.

Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, is the founder and president of Keri Glassman, Nutritious Life, a nutrition practice based in New York City, and Nutritious Life Meals, a gourmet, healthy, daily diet delivery program available across the U.S. She is a member of Women's Health Magazine's advisory board and has authored three books: Slim Calm Sexy Diet, The O2 Diet, and The Snack Factor Diet. Her expertise is regularly featured on the Today show, Good Morning America, and Access Hollywood Live, among others, and she hosts "A Little Bit Better" on Youtube's Livestrong Woman channel. Read more of Keri's tips every day on Facebook!