Back-to-school lunches

Back-to-school lunches

Always pack lunches in a cooler or insulated container and include freezer packs, a sealed bag of ice or a frozen beverage to keep the food cold.

Always pack lunches in a cooler or insulated container and include freezer packs, a sealed bag of ice or a frozen beverage to keep the food cold.

by Joanne Henning Tedesco — 

It is time for school to start, and healthy lunches are a top priority for children and adults, alike. Always pack lunches in a cooler or insulated container and include freezer packs, a sealed bag of ice or a frozen beverage to keep the food cold. If possible, keep the food in a refrigerator or cool place, out of the sun.

Remind your child not to trade away his lunch or forget it on the school bus.

Add these easy lunchbox stuffers that will be a hit with your child — vegetable sticks with a small container of dip; trail mix, nuts and sunflower seeds; cheese sticks, dried fruit and fruit leather; chips with salsa; pudding, fruit yogurt, or celery sticks filled with cream cheese or peanut butter and raisins. For fresh fruit, try a sliver of cantaloupe, berries or a bunch of grapes. Crackers can be plain or sandwiched with peanut butter or cheese, and granola bars are a great addition.

 

Crunchy PB and A Wrap

Ingredients:

  • 4 seven-inch flour tortillas
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup chopped apple
  • 1/4 cup granola

Preparation:

Spread peanut butter over each tortilla. Sprinkle with apple and granola. Tightly roll up tortillas. Cut in half. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Pack in insulated containers. Yield: 4 servings.

 

Turkey-Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup red quinoa
  • 1-1/2 cups baby kale, baby spinach and/or mixed baby greens
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped cooked turkey or chicken breast
  • 1 stalk celery, thinly sliced or 1/2 cup chopped fennel bulb
  • 1/4 cup halved and very thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 ounce Gouda cheese, chopped (1/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons snipped dried apricots and/or cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup vinaigrette salad dressing

Preparation:

In a small saucepan combine broth and quinoa. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 12 to 15 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat; let stand for 5 minutes. Drain any excess broth. Transfer quinoa to a large bowl; fluff with a fork. Add kale, apple, turkey, celery, onion, cheese, apricots and walnuts; toss to combine. Add dressing; toss to coat. Cover and chill until ready to serve; toss before serving. Quinoa is best with a vinaigrette-style or clear dressing. Raspberry, balsamic or Italian-style vinaigrette would all be great with this salad.

 

Schoolhouse Wraps

Ingredients:

  • 1 cooked chicken breast and 2 thighs, or rotisserie chicken pieces (about 3 cups meat)
  • 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup chopped seedless red grapes, about 12
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 4 spinach or whole-wheat tortillas (9-inch diameter)

Preparation:

Remove the skin from the cooked chicken and strip the meat from the bones; coarsely chop and put into a mixing bowl. Add the yogurt, grapes and celery. Mix well, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and stir until combined. Lay the tortillas on a work surface. Put 1/4 of the chicken salad on the bottom third of each tortilla. Fold the bottom up over the mixture and fold in the sides while rolling the tortilla up to enclose the filling. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or parchment paper until ready to serve. Refrigerate if not using before 1 hour. These wraps are kid-sized. If you are packing a lunch for bigger appetites, divide the chicken salad between 2 tortillas. Yield: 4 servings, about 3/4 cup each.

 

Couscous and Fruit Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped shallots
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups cooked whole-wheat couscous
  • 1 cup chopped nectarine
  • 1 cup mixed fresh berries, such as blueberries and raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds

Preparation:

To toast the almonds, heat a small dry skillet over medium-low heat. Add nuts and cook, stirring, until lightly browned and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk oil, orange juice, vinegar, shallots, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add cooked couscous, nectarines, berries and almonds; gently toss to combine. Yield: 4 servings.

 

Strawberry and Cream Cheese Sandwich

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel)
  • 1/4 teaspoon honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
  • 2 slices very thin whole-wheat sandwich bread
  • 2 medium strawberries, sliced

Preparation:

Combine cream cheese, honey and orange zest in a bowl. Spread bread with the cheese mixture. Place sliced strawberries on 1 piece of bread, top with the other. Yield: 1 serving.

Sources: bonappetit.com, gourmet.com and Joanne’s recipe box.

 

Joanne Henning Tedesco is editor of AzNetNews.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 34, Number 4, August/September 2015.

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