As the days get longer and summer comes to a close, kids of all ages are headed back to the classrooms and also back to the lunchrooms. Here’s some surprising ways to make your kids love their lunch boxes and be envy of the midday meal. After all, a full child is a happy child!
PB & A sammies
Take a granny smith (or another your child’s favorite varieties) and carefully core it and slice it into rings about ¼ inch thick. Spread a couple of tablespoons of all-natural peanut butter on the slices of apple, and then add a sprinkling of granola and dried fruit such as cherries or raisins. Put another slice on the apple and viola: a lovely peanut butter and apple sandwich.
Wrap it up
Start with a flour tortilla, (the burrito size works best), and whole-wheat varieties are the most healthy. Smear one side of the tortilla with pesto or hummus, and fill it with leftover shredded turkey or chicken breast. Also include fresh cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, shredded lettuce and a sprinkling of cheese, like cheddar. A quick cut in two and you’ve got a prefect healthy addition to the lunch pail.
Mini pizza smiles
You may already know the classic mini pizzas made from an English muffin topped with cheese and meat. But how about this twist on the favorite: Spread a few spoonfuls of pizza sauce on a lightly toasted English muffin. Top it with mozzarella cheese and through in foil in toaster oven till the cheese melts. After you take it out put veggies in the shape of a smiley face on the top. Maybe an olive for a nose, some pineapple pieces for eyes, and slices of bell pepper can create the mouth. At school, your kids will love every bite.
Ants on a log
This oldie but goodie has always a favorite, but this time with a little twist. Instead of peanut butter fill your celery logs with low fat cream cheese (full of calcium, which is great for growing bones and teeth!). Add dried fruit like apricots, cranberries, or cherries to the top, and alternating a few varieties makes it look even better.
If you child likes to snack at mealtime, encourage that habit at the lunchbox. Try little sections with different healthy finger foods like fresh blueberries, veggie sticks of celery and broccoli, sections of string cheese and a few whole grain crackers. Not only will they not get bored but also they’ll be the envy of their class!
Pocket of Pita
Assembly is always a great idea for kid’s lunches, so why not help them out with a Mediterranean inspired snack. Take two whole-wheat pita pockets, cut in them half and give them a container of hummus to spread inside. Then they can pile fresh veggies like snap peas, carrots and cucumbers and leftover lamb or chicken out of another container. Finish it off with a little yogurt with some freshly sliced fruit and you’ve got yourself a true winner.
Eli Madrone is a freelance health writer based in Portland, Oregon. He learned about healthy back to school food snacks while talking with Grants Pass dentist Dr. Donald Lanahan.