Healthy Living Blog

School Days: Lunches They’ll Love

Tina Miller, MS RD Meijer healthy living advisor, www.meijerhealthyliving.com

 

Tina Miller 2011Where did the summer go?  With the new school-year just days away, it’s time to start planning for healthier back to school lunches.  Make it a family activity by getting your children involved planning and preparing lunches.

Make sure to pack lunches with a variety of nutritious and fun foods for taste and visual appeal. For a healthy lunch, include at least one or more fruit and/or vegetables, a protein food (meat, fish, poultry or legumes such as beans or peanut butter), whole grains (whole grain bread, wraps, or crackers) and low-fat dairy (milk or Meijer Purple Cow Yogurt).  You can find more information from the Meijer dietitian team and simple recipes for healthy family meals at www.meijerhealthyliving.com.


Try these flat-out yummy recipes to wrap up lunches that are fun and interesting. Get the kids involved in planning lunch menus, shopping for lunch foods, preparing lunch items, and helping pack their own lunch.  Finally, teach your children about keeping food safe.  Always prepare lunches with clean hands and on a clean surface, keep cold foods cold with freezer gel packs, and/or insulated lunch boxes, and pack hand wipes for quick clean up.

Simple and Fun Lunch Ideas:

Making Faces

Use Mini pitas or small flat out bread, spread with hummus to cover, use shredded carrot to create “hair”, sliced ripe olives for eyes, cucumber wedges or bell pepper slices for smiles, and a half a cherry tomato for a nose.   Get creative and make your favorite cuddly creature or favorite friend.

Peanut Butter & Apple Wraps

Spread Meijer Natural Peanut Butter on a Meijer Whole-Wheat Tortilla Shell.  Sprinkle with McCormick Ground Cinnamon and a drizzle of Meijer Organics Honey.  Top with fresh apple slices and roll into a wrap.

Cucumber Boats

2 Mini cucumbers, halved, hallowed to remove seeds

1 Cup Meijer Deli prepared chicken or tuna salad (or use recipe below)

Directions:

Divide chicken or tuna salad evenly to fill each cucumber half.

Chicken Salad

2 cup diced cooked chicken

1 cup seedless red grapes, halved

1 cup diced celery

1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans (optional)

1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

1 tsp.  Meijer Dijon mustard

1/2 cup Hidden Valley Reduced Fat Ranch Dressing

Directions:

  1. Combine chicken, grapes, celery, pecans and green onion in a medium bowl.
  2. Stir mustard into dressing; toss with salad. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

 

Wrap It Up Ideas:

Bistro Beef Wrap

Makes 1 Wrap

Ingredients:

1 Meijer whole wheat (whole grain) wrap or burrito size shell

1/4 ripe California avocado or 1 pouch Wholly Guacamole 100 calorie pack

2 ounces (2 slices) Meijer Deli Certified Angus Beef

1/2 cup Earthbound Farms Organic Leaf or Romaine Lettuce

Directions:

  1. Spread avocado (guacamole) over burrito shell.
  2. To one side of the burrito add slices of roast beef and top with lettuce.
  3. Tightly roll, starting at meat side, cut in half (or pinwheels) and secure with toothpicks or wrap in plastic wrap.

Nutrition Information (approximate, per serving):  Calories 299, Fat 12g, Cholesterol 51mg, Sodium 443mg, Carbohydrates 27g, Fiber 6g, Protein 23g.

Monterey Chicken Wrap

Instructions (per 8-inch wrap):

1 Meijer whole wheat tortilla (8 inch)

1 Tbsp. Lite Ranch Dressing

1 lettuce leaf

2 ounces (2 slices) Meijer Deli Chicken Breast

1 Kraft Big Slice Sharp Cheddar Cheese Slice

2 thin tomato slices

2 thin avocado slices or 2 Tbsp. prepared guacamole

Directions:

  1. Spread tortilla with dressing; cover with remaining ingredients.
  2. Fold up bottom edge of tortilla, and then roll up.

Nutrition Information (approximate, per serving):  Calories 360, Fat 18g, Cholesterol 50mg, Sodium 870mg, Carbohydrates 30g, Fiber 3g 12%, Protein 19g.

Chicken Veggie Wraps

Makes 4 Servings

2 cups cooked chicken breast meat, diced or shredded rotisserie chicken, skin removed

½ cup grated baby carrots

½ cup chopped broccoli florets

½ cup Marzetti’s low fat ranch dressing

3 cups Dole Romaine salad

6 Meijer whole wheat tortillas

4 cups fresh cut pineapple chunks or Meijer canned pineapple chunks in juice

1 (6 oz.) Meijer low-fat Greek vanilla yogurt

Directions:

  1. Combine chicken, carrots, broccoli and dressing. Toss gently.
  2. Line each tortilla with ½ cup of packaged salad mix and spoon ½ cup of chicken salad mixture on to tortilla.
  3. Roll and slice each tortilla into thirds. If desired, secure each wrap with a party toothpick.

Recipe adapted from produce for kids.org

Nutrition Information (approximate, per serving): 525 calories, 10g fat, 52mg cholesterol, 645mg sodium, 80g carbohydrate, 6g fiber, 27g protein

Grilled Sweet and Savory Flatbread

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Meijer olive oil (as needed)

1 large (10.5 oz.) artisan-style flatbread or 4 small individual flatbreads (very thin pizza crusts can be substituted)

4 spears asparagus

2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

½ cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

½ cup roasted red pepper, chopped

1 pkg. (13.2 oz.) Dole® All Natural Chopped Sunflower Kale Crunch Salad Kit

Salt and McCormick® black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat grill.  Brush flatbread and asparagus lightly with olive oil.  Grill flatbread on one side just until lightly charred and crisp; turn.  Scatter goat cheese over flatbread and grill just until cheese begins to soften and melt.  Grill asparagus 6 to 8 minutes or until tender; cut into bite sized pieces.
  2. Toss chopped salad with dressing; top flatbread with salad mixture. Top with chopped asparagus, artichokes and roasted red pepper. Sprinkle bacon packet over top. Finish with several grinds of black pepper.

Recipe Source: Dole® Salads

Nutrition Information (approximate, per serving):  Calories 433, Fat 18g, Cholesterol 15mg, Sodium 593mg, Carbohydrates 54g, Fiber 8g, Protein 15g.

Grilled Kale and Sweet Potato Quesadillas

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. Meijer olive oil

1 red or sweet onion, sliced into rings

1 pkg. (9.1 oz.) Dole® All Natural Kale Caesar Kit

1 can (12.75 oz.) unsweetened natural sweet potatoes, drained or 1 large sweet potato, boiled

1 tsp. McCormick® smoked paprika

1/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped

salt and ground black pepper, to taste

8 Meijer multigrain tortillas

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion; sauté 5 minutes.  Gradually add the salad blend; cook 5 minutes, or until wilted.  Stir in dressing from packet.  Remove from heat.
  2. Mash sweet potatoes.  Stir in smoked paprika and dried cranberries; season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Spread 4 tortillas with sweet potato mixture.  Top with kale mixture.  Sprinkle with cheese from salad kit packet. Crush croutons; sprinkle over cheese.  Top with remaining tortillas.  Press down to close.
  4. Grill over medium-high heat 2 minutes per side.  Cut into wedges and serve.

Recipe Source: Dole® Salads

Nutrition Information (approximate, per serving):  Calories 487, Fat 17g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 766mg, Carbohydrates 69g, Fiber 14g, Protein15g.