These Fun, Healthy Lunches Will Make Your Kid The Envy Of The Lunch Table
I am a champion lunch-packer. My kids’ lunches are neat, creative nutritious and they even contain little love notes … for about a week. After that, the lunchpacking rut sets in and I find myself leaning toward PB&J more often than I would like.
Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. But we’re giving you 10 other options: lunches that are creative, healthy and simple to make. So sure, let turkey or PB&J be your go-to options. But don’t be surprised if you see some of these themed lunches becoming standard fare in your regular rotation.
Plus, we’ve included jokes to include with every lunch and notes from our dietician about how to make the meals even healthier. (Photograph By Tonya Dailey)
This lunch is Middle Eastern and topnotch.
Note: You can buy most of these items pre-made, but you may not want to after you’ve tried the recipes below.
• Cut 1 piece of whole-grain pita bread into sections.
• Serve with 1/3 cup hummus, 1/3 cup tzatziki sauce and 1 cup couscous. Include sliced cucumbers, baby carrots, broccoli florettes or sliced bell peppers to dip into the hummus.
15 grams total fat
Photographed by Hillary Black
Dietician’s Note: Wow, grains galore! I love the colorful veggies in the couscous, and the sliced veggies taste great dipped in protein-rich hummus. As a general rule of thumb, the brighter your fruits and veggies, the more powerful the disease-fighting antioxidant punch!
Couscous: Sauté 1 cup of mixed vegetables in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Use diced onion, carrot, mushroom, bell pepper or whatever is your child’s favorite vegetable. Make couscous according to package directions, using low-sodium chicken broth instead of water. Stir in vegetables and refrigerate until ready to use.
Hummus: Put 1 can of chickpeas (drained), 1/3 cup lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste) in a food processor and blend. Once blended add 1/3 cup olive oil and salt to taste and pulse just until blended. Consider adding 1/3 teaspoon paprika, 1/3 teaspoon cumin or 1/4 cup fresh parsley.
Tzatziki Sauce: Grate 1 small cucumber. Put into a tea towel and squeeze to remove the water. Add to 16 ounces plain yogurt. Stir in 1 clove garlic minced and 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste and mix. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 4 days.
Photographed by Hillary Black
Your kid will be the big fish in the big pond with this lunch.
• Pack 3 ounces of tuna mixed with chopped celery and include 5 whole grain crackers for dipping, such as Triscuits brand.
• Try your hand at making a fish cutout on ¼-inch-thick jicama slices for an added touch. Cut with a paring knife or use a cookie cutter.
• Then add Goldfish™ crackers, a 1-ounce package of goldfish-shaped crackers or try our Seaside Mix.
• Add some Swedish fish for dessert. Or, for a healthier option, make cute fish cutouts in dried apricots to replace the sugary Swedish fish; just use a sharp pair of kitchen shears.
• To finish, include 1/2 cup of blueberries to represent the deep blue sea.
10 grams total fat
Dietician’s Note: Tuna is not only rich in protein, it is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to promote healthy brain cell development. But to reduce the risk of mercury contamination, opt for chunk light tuna. Children should avoid Albacore or solid white tuna, as they most likely contain higher concentrations of mercury. Parents are advised to limit their children’s consumption of canned tuna to less than 1 ounce of canned light tuna for every 12 pounds of body weight per week, in order to stay below the level of mercury the EPA considers safe. In other words, a child weighing 50 pounds should have fewer than 4 ounces.
Photographed by Tonya Dailey
Use favorite small cookie cutters or sandwich cutouts.
• Spread one slice of bread with light cream cheese or nut butter, 1 tablespoon of jam or preserves and top with the other slice of bread.
• Use cutters to make a sandwich puzzle and then place in a covered container.
• Pack 1 cup cut up assorted veggies.
• Slice an apple from the side in toward the core to create rounds; cut out the center with one of the cookie cutters and replace the piece. Sprinkle with lemon juice or dip in water mixed with lemon juice before packing. Or, serve with a favorite fruit (pictured).
18 grams total fat
The full story is in the Fall 2011 issue
By Bridgett Hurley