Thursday, December 16, 2010

What's For Lunch? Easy, Fun, Edible Foods For the Lunch Box Crowd

When I finally put my son in nursery school I was so excited to make healthy, fun lunches that would feed his mind and body. Then reality kicked in. He didn't seem to like anything I gave him. He came home hungry, often. And easy things like PB&J were off the list for my allergy ridden son. Often, he didn't eat and the teachers didn't make him. With twelve other kids to watch over they didn't have time to make my angel (who thinks we should subsist on Goldfish anyway) eat his lunch. What to do?

I dusted off my overworked thinking cap and slapped it on my head. Lunch was going to be strategic. My goal -get as much in him as possible and don't sweat it if a few things slip in that I don't like. So enjoy a few of my lunch food tips:

Dried Fruit

-Use Sweet Breads. I'm a cook so what I make is from scratch but the cake makers have cornered the market on perfectly fine quick breads like banana, cinnamon, date etc. To add some extra oomph to the mixes, mash up a banana for the banana, add 1tsp vanilla to the cinnamon and mix in some dried cranberries to the date. Once you have the bread, go crazy. Use cream cheese as the spread, sprinkle some cinnamon and add a few slices of cheese and/or cold cuts. The sweet and savory is just awesome and they love it.

-Homemade lunchables. Skip those prepackaged deals. Mix some cream cheese, salt, pepper, and one grated cucumber together. (Squeeze out most of the water from the cucumber.) Have the deli slice your meat a little thicker. Spread the spread on the meat. Lay some cheese over the spread and roll it up. You can even roll it around some steamed asparagus. Cut into sushi like pieces. Throw in some crackers, dried fruit and you have lunchables without the preservatives.

-Pasta, it's what's for lunch. Get some of the mini-farfalle or wheels and do ½ of the box all at once. Then mix it up over the week. One day give them some pasta and red sauce with some Parmesan. Another day, get one of those microwave veggie bags. Nuke it and mix in some pasta and butter. I'll get some of the mini cans of tuna, mix it with some of the pasta, some minced celery, carrots and a nice dollop of mayo for a tuna pasta salad.

-Chicken Salad. Try not to project your food likes/dislikes on your kids. They'll surprise you by eating the most remarkable things if you give them a chance. Chop up a little sweet lettuce (butter, Romaine, iceberg) and then sprinkle with dried fruit, real fruit (like grapes, apple chunks, strawberry slices), cucumbers, carrots, cheese cubes (like mozzarella or cheddar), croutons (if you have them) and then bake 3-4 chicken nuggets and place them on top.

-Nutella, Nutella, Nutella. It's everywhere these days. You don't need to travel to the gourmet shop in la, la land. If it's not by your peanut butter, ask your grocer, because it is there somewhere. From Nutella, you can run the traditional peanut butter circuit and make it seem new and awesome. Nutella and bananas, Nutella and strawberries, Nutella and jam. Nutella, banana and turkey. Go crazy!

Not every day is going to be inspired. Every Friday is pizza day at my son's school. I love pizza day. Happy cooking!

What's For Lunch? Easy, Fun, Edible Foods For the Lunch Box Crowd

Kim Walter is a personal chef in the Tampa Bay area. She takes a love of healthy culinary arts and brings it to her personal chef, small catering and special occasion cooking. See how she can make your life healthier and happier. Visit us at:

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