{     Offering the Best Childhood Preparation for Social and Academic Success.     }

Posts Tagged ‘Lunch Ideas’

9 Wholesome Recipes Made Fun for Kids

download (4).png

Kids will love preparing these foods as much as they will eating them.

Getting your kids to eat healthy can be tricky. Which is why Shannon Seip and Kelly Parthen, the duo behind Bean Sprouts Cafe, created playful and imaginative meals that get children excited about eating healthy. In their new cookbook Bean Sprouts Kitchen, Shannon and Kelly share 60 recipes the whole family can prepare and enjoy together. Bean Sprouts Kitchen comes out November 6, 2018, but you can make nine of their fun and wholesome meals any day.

Grilledzilla

Make sure the ends of googly-eyed Grilledzilla’s mouth are pointing up in a slight smile, so he doesn’t scare anyone away.

Cooking spray
2 slices cheddar cheese
¼ cup (30 g) shredded mozzarella cheese
2 zucchini rounds
2 olive slices

  1. Preheat skillet over medium heat.
  2. Spray cooking spray on one slice of bread. Flip over and layer one slice of cheddar, shredded mozzarella, and the other slice of cheddar cheese. Top with other slice of bread and spray the top slice of bread with cooking spray.
  3. Grill sandwich in pan until lightly browned and flip over; continue grilling until cheese is melted.
  4. Cut a zigzag line through the bottom third of the sandwich. Place zucchini rounds at the top of the sandwich and top with olives for eyes.

Bean appétit!

Makes 1 Grilledzilla

Bean There, Ate That
Give your Grilledzilla some zip with these additional combos:
• Turkey + Mayonnaise + Cheddar cheese + Apple slices
• Grilled chicken slices + BBQ sauce + Gruyere cheese

Dino S’mores

 

Dino S'mores

 

Your whole family can work together to create this edible prehistoric scene.

Photo: The Quarto Group

We’ve found chocolate to be a much friendlier tar pit for our prehistoric pals.

¾ cup (94 g) whole wheat flour
½ cup (63 g) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (28 g) ground flax meal
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup (56 g) butter, softened
¼ cup (60 g) packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons (60 g) honey
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ cup (60 ml) milk (of your choice)
1 cup (175 g) chocolate chips
2 green pears

YOU WILL ALSO NEED:
Waxed paper
Rolling pin
Dinosaur cookie cutters
Child scissors

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Mix the flours, flax meal, baking powder, and baking soda into a bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, use a hand mixer to blend the butter, brown sugar, honey, and vanilla extract until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Stir the butter mixture into the flour mixture. Add milk. Stir until blended.
  4. Place dough on a piece of waxed paper. Flatten into a big circle and place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  5. On a floured surface, roll the dough to about ¼-inch (6 mm) thick. Press the dinosaur cookie cutters in the dough. Place shapes on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool.
  6. Melt the chocolate chips in a small bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between. Spoon 2 tablespoons (28 g) of melted chocolate on a small piece of waxed paper and quickly place a dinosaur upright in each chocolate glob.
  7. Place the dinosaurs and chocolate in the freezer, until the chocolate hardens, about 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully peel off the chocolate tar pits from the waxed paper and stand dinosaurs upright on a plate.
  8. Cut pears into slices, and cut slices into tree shapes for the background. Use the pear slices in place of marshmallows for fruit-filled s’mores.

Makes 10 to 12 Dino S’mores

Behind the beans
Many of the science centers and museums where Bean Sprouts cafés are located offer dinosaur exhibits. We even call our fossil friends Bean Names, like “Pea-Rex,” “Tri-Carrot Tops,” and “Eggasaurus.”

Xylofun

 

Xylofun

 

This sweet tasting dish will have your child forgetting they’re eating vegetables.

Photo: The Quarto Group

Try multicolored carrots to make this dish really ring.

Cooking spray
8 carrots
1½ teaspoons (7 g) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure maple syrup
⅛ teaspoon salt
12 capers
2 pitted olives (optional)
Cooking spray

YOU WILL ALSO NEED:
Pastry brush (optional)
Lollipop sticks (optional)
Child scissors

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Peel the carrots. Carefully slice in halves lengthwise.
  3. Mix the butter and maple syrup in a small bowl. Use a pastry brush or the back of a spoon to brush the mixture on both sides of the carrots. Place the carrots rounded side down on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Bake for 20 minutes or until fork tender.
  4. Place the two largest carrot halves, rounded side down, turned inwards at a slight angle, like you’re making a “greater than” math sign. Balance remaining carrots flat side up across the two large, angled carrots.
  5. Trim the ends of the carrots with the scissors so they don’t extend beyond the bottom carrots. Place a caper on the end of each carrot key.
  6. If desired, place an olive on the end of each lollipop stick for mallets.

Bean appétit!

Makes 2 Xylofuns

Broctopus

 

Broctopus

 

A fun way to get your child to finish their broccoli.

Photo: The Quarto Group

Place the tot upright and surround with 8 legs. Dip the sea creature into ranch dressing or ketchup or enjoy plain.

2 cups (142 g) steamed broccoli florets
¼ cup (40 g) diced white or yellow onion
2 tablespoons (8 g) chopped parsley
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg
⅔ cup (33 g) panko breadcrumbs
⅓ cup (38 g) shredded cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon (15 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

YOU WILL ALSO NEED:
Parchment paper
Pastry brush (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
  2. Add broccoli, onion, and parsley to a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add salt, egg, panko breadcrumbs, and cheese to the food processor and pulse until incorporated.
  3. Use your hands to roll 1½ tablespoons (17 g) of mixture into a tot shape. Place on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat three times for a total of four tots.
  4. Use the rest of the mixture to create 4 sets of 8 Broctopus legs (32 legs total) on the parchment paper. Form skinny legs and pinch to create curves.
  5. Use the pastry brush or your finger to brush extra-virgin olive oil on the tops of all the pieces. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, without flipping the pieces over.
  6. Place the tot upright and surround with 8 legs. Dip the sea creature into ranch dressing or ketchup or enjoy plain.

Bean appétit!

Makes 4 Broctopi

Under the Z

 

Under the Z

 

A healthy alternative to your typical pancake.

Photo: The Quarto Group

This silly use of zucchini noodles brings the “z” to under the sea.

Cooking spray
2 cups (240 g) spiral zucchini noodles plus 16 to 20 zucchini noodles
½ cup (40 g) shredded Parmesan cheese
1 egg¼ cup
(31 g) flour

YOU WILL ALSO NEED:
Round waffle maker

  1. Preheat the waffle maker. Lightly coat the iron with cooking spray.
  2. In a bowl, blend the 2 cups (240 g) spiral zucchini noodles, Parmesan cheese, egg, and flour. Pour into the waffle maker and spread evenly across the surface sothe mixture reaches the edges of the iron.
  3. While the waffle is cooking, place the remaining zucchini noodles on the bottom halves of two plates.
  4. Remove the waffle and cut in half. Place each waffle half at the top of the noodles to create the jellyfish.

Bean appétit!

Makes 2 jellyfish

Note
You can use store-bought zucchini noodles or make your own if you have a spiralizer. Or cut zucchini into long, thin noodle-like strips (a mandoline works great for this)

Dare-Deviled Eggs

 

Dare-Deviled Eggs

 

A perfect way to introduce kale into your child’s diet.

Photo: The Quarto Group

If only all deviled eggs had the moxie of these go-getters!

3 large kale leaves
1 tablespoon
(15 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
¼ cup (60 g) mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
12 thin red bell pepper slices, about ½ inch long (13 mm)

YOU WILL ALSO NEED:
Child scissors
Toothpick

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Use the child scissors to cut one of the kale leaves until you have ⅓ cup (22 g) little confetti-like pieces. Set aside.
  3. With the other large kale leaves, cut 6 triangle shapes for capes, about 3 to 4 inches (7.5 cm to 10 cm) long. Use your fingers or a pastry brush to coat both sides of the capes with olive oil. Place on foil-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted.
  4. Cut a tiny slice off the bottoms of the wide ends of each egg so they can stand up. Cut off the top third of each egg and carefully remove the yolks and place in a small bowl.
  5. Add the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and kale confetti and stir until blended. Carefully spoon the egg yolk mixture back into the hollowed-out eggs.
  6. Use a toothpick to poke 2 small holes in the top of each egg white and push in 2 red pepper pieces for horns.
  7. Carefully press the short end of each baked kale cape onto the top of the egg yolk mixture so that it’s “flying” straight out. Top with the smaller piece of the hard-boiled egg.

Bean appétit!

Makes 6 Dare-Deviled Eggs

Note
Try serving the Dare-Deviled Eggs on top of tall, clear cups turned upside down, so it looks like they’re flying.

Spagiggles

 

Spagiggles

 

Great with spaghetti or all on their own.

Photo: The Quarto Group

Unleash your inner stylist with these sassy bites.

¼ cup (35 g) cooked spaghetti
2 teaspoons (10 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon salt
12 turkey-black bean meatballs, warmed (from Mash of the Penguins, page 25)
Marinara sauce or your favorite pasta sauce for dipping

YOU WILL ALSO NEED:
Child scissors (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
  2. Toss the cooked spaghetti with the olive oil, garlic powder, and salt until evenly coated.
  3. Use child scissors or your fingers to pinch off the spaghetti strands into different lengths. Place the noodles on a foil-lined baking sheet in whatever hairstyles you like—curlicues, spikes, etc. Bake for 5 to 6 minutes or until lightly browned.
  4. Let cool slightly. Fix the spaghetti hair onto the meatballs and serve with your favorite pasta sauce for dipping.

Bean appétit!

Makes 12 stylin’ meatballs

Bean There, Ate That
Try using the noodles to create stick figures for your Spagiggles.

Crocamole

 

Crocamole

 

A snack that’s delicious and safe for anyone who’s gluten free.

Photo: The Quarto Group

This croc pot is delightful for dipping veggies.

1 avocado, sliced in half lengthwise
½ cup (113 g) hummus
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 zucchini rounds, plus more for dipping
4 olive slices
14 matchstick carrots
Other favorite veggies for dipping, such as baby carrots or celery sticks

  1. Use a spoon to scoop out the avocado pulp and place in a bowl. Set avocado skins aside.
  2. Add the hummus and lemon juice to the bowl and use a fork to mash ingredients until smooth.
  3. Scoop the green hummus back into the avocado skins. Place 2 zucchini rounds and olive slices in the hummus at the wider end of each avocado skin for eyes. Add carrot matchsticks at the narrow end for teeth.
  4. Enjoy with your favorite veggie dippers.

Bean appétit!

Makes 2 Crocamoles

Spaceadilla

 

Spaceadilla

 

The jicama adds a little sweetness to this dish.

Photo: The Quarto Group

Silly shapes of crunchy veggies blast this dish to infinity and beyond.

4 flour tortillas
½ cup (58 g) shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup (113 g) shredded rotisserie chicken
¼ cup (65 g) salsa (optional)
1 tablespoon (15 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 small jicama
12 olive slices
1 each red and orange bell pepper
1 can (16-ounce or 455 g) refried black beans, warmed

YOU WILL ALSO NEED:
Child scissors
Mini star and moon cookie cutters

  1. Use the child scissors to cut out 8 identical rocket shapes from the tortillas. On 4 of the rocket shapes, evenly divide the shredded cheese and chicken. Top with salsa, if desired, and the remaining tortillas.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add extra-virgin olive oil. Carefully add the rockets to the skillet. Cook until golden on both sides, about 3 minutes per side.
  3. While the rockets are cooking, cut the jicama into thin slices. Use the mini cutters to cut 16 to 20 stars and moons. Use the child scissors to cut flame shapes from orange and red bell peppers.
  4. Use the back of a spoon to spread the warmed refried beans across 4 plates. Place a rocket quesadilla in the middle of each plate. Add pepper flames at the bottom of the rocket and olive slices in the center for portholes. Add jicama stars and moons on the refried beans.

Bean appétit!

Makes 4 Spaceadillas

 

Bean Sprouts Kitchen

Bean Sprouts Kitchen

Beat Sprouts Kitchen by Shannon Payette Seip and Kelly Parthen

Photo: The Quarto Group

 

This article was written by Shannon Payette Seip and Kelly Parthen from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

6 Back-to-School Tips from Moms Who Are Total Pros

64565.png

Even though this article was originally written with working mothers in mind, this is great information for all parents!

It’s back-to-school time, which means gearing up for those early starts, packed lunches and the mad rush to catch the bus. But the goods news is that you can make the transition so much easier (for kids and parents) with these genius tips that we gleaned from some of the coolest moms we know.

skynesher/Getty Images

Element 1

Pinterest Is Your Friend

“I pack my son’s lunch every day, but I run out of ideas a week or so into the school year—and he gets bored of the same old, same old. To make matters worse, he’s also very picky, and I never really know what he’s going to like. So right before the school year, I like to make a Pinterest board with tons of different lunch ideas. Then I go to the computer with him every few weeks and have him pick out the ones he’s drawn to. This way, he’s more into the lunch because he was involved with the planning—and it helps me out because I don’t have to rack my brain trying to think of something he’ll actually eat!” – Alyssa Hertzig, beauty editor and blogger

Give Kids Some Options

“Getting the kids dressed can be quite a challenge and the fastest way to run late! To avoid this, each morning (or night before), select three different outfits for them to choose from to wear. My girls love picking out their clothes and it makes them feel like they have some control but still gives me the ability to carefully decide which three outfits, while saving time. Win-win!” – Nicole DiGiacobbe, lifestyle blogger

monkeybusinessimages/Getty Images

Element 2

Lay Out Clear Steps

“My top tip for getting kids out the door on time? Create or purchase a customizable chart—something simple that tells kiddos what to do in the morning by using easy-to-complete steps like ‘brush hair,’ ‘get dressed,’ ‘eat breakfast,’ and ‘brush teeth.’ It’s so simple but such a life-saver.” – Kendall Rayburn, lifestyle and family blogger

Ask Specific Questions

“As a mom, I am always dying to know what my kids did during the school day. And it’s always so frustrating when they come home and say the day was ‘fine’ or that they don’t remember what they did. So, I’ve learned that it’s best to ask very specific questions or to give them prompts like, ‘tell me about something funny that happened today’ or ‘what was the most surprising thing you learned today?’ These questions essentially force them to give you an answer—and you’ll end up learning a ton about what they’re actually doing during the day!” – Alyssa Hertzig

Geber86/Getty Images

Element 3

Don’t Just Prep Their Lunches

“To avoid the craziness in the morning, I like to meal prep as much of my kids’ breakfast as I can. For example: My kids love to have bacon every morning, but it can take a lot of time to fry it up every day. (Plus, it’s messy!) So, on Sundays, I lay out a whole package of it on a sheet pan covered in oil. Then I bake it in the oven. I keep the cooked bacon in the fridge, and just take out a few slices each morning, pop them in the microwave for a few seconds, and breakfast is ready in no time.” – Alyssa Hertzig

Pick Your Battles

“If they don’t want to eat carrots for lunch, switch it up and give them a treat instead. Something in their belly is better than nothing. Of course, this doesn’t apply to every single day but sometimes it’s easier to be the fun mom that packed her kids some cheddar bunnies!” – Nicole DiGiacobbe

 

This article was from PureWow and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

What Nutritionists Give Their Kids For After-School Snacks

“An afternoon snack at our house is usually either a smoothie or fruit with protein, such as apples with peanut butter or orange and cheese slices. Other favorites include yogurt-based Popsicles, trail mix or homemade popcorn.” ― Kath Younger, a registered dietitian and blogger at Kath Eats Real Food 

“For an after-school snack, my kids have enjoyed fresh fruit like banana or any combination of cut-up cantaloupe and grapes and berries (e.g., raspberries, blueberries or strawberries) plus warm cashews. They’ve also enjoyed Triscuits and cheese, and plain low-fat yogurt with berries, or unsweetened applesauce and a sprinkle of cinnamon.” ― Elisa Zied, a certified dietitian nutritionist and author of Feed Your Family Right!

Fruit

A group of nutritionists shared the general guidelines and kid-approved picks they use in their own homes for after-school snacks.

But how do you choose a snack for your kids that will fill them up enough to stop the “when’s dinner ready?” nagging without spoiling their appetites or loading them up on empty calories. 

The lag between lunch at school and dinner at home can feel like a lifetime to kids. The after-school snack, therefore, is a time-honored tradition in many homes. 

Nut 2.jpeg

Jupiterimages via Getty Images

Nutritionists share the go-to snacks they feed their kids.

“Since my kids are 12, 10, 7 and 5, they do a pretty good job of getting their own after-school snacks from the fruit bowl or the snack cupboard containing: graham crackers, peanut butter, pecans, raisins, prunes and peanuts in the shell. The big thing I encourage is drinking water or herbal tea with a drizzle of honey. They don’t get much time to drink many liquids at school. Tea with honey helps them drink more to stay hydrated in the winter and chilly spring when they aren’t ‘hot and thirsty’ like in the summer. Plus the honey soothes their sore throats when they have colds and has antioxidant polyphenols, which may help boost their immunity to prevent future colds.” ― Serena Ball, a registered dietitian and health blogger at Teaspoon Of Spice 

Tea

“I’m a big believer in the concept of small, frequent eating. Many schools start lunch too early in the day and don’t have opportunities for eating after that. If kids are starting lunch at 10:30 a.m. and don’t have dinner until 6 p.m., after-school snacks should be an option. I prefer to fill them up on vegetables and fruits during this time of day, with moderate amounts of proteins and fats that can be obtained from a slice of cheese, peanut butter or milk. Generally, kids don’t eat enough produce, so my children are typically offered sliced bell peppers or cucumbers with hummus or cheese.” ― Rick Hall, a clinical professor and registered dietitian at Arizona State University

“Some of our favorite after-school snacks are cut-up vegetables (carrots, peppers, celery, tomatoes) and hummus as a dip.” ― Katja Leccisi, a registered dietitian nutritionist and author of How To Feed Your Kids: Four Steps To Raising Healthy Eaters 

Hummus

“My kids love apple “nachos,” which are sliced apples, melted nut butter with a sprinkle of dried cranberries and chia seeds.” ― Lauren Kelly, a nutritionist and author of The Everything Wheat-Free Diet Cookbook

“I always offer an after-school snack to my boys each day. If I don’t, the cries of ‘Mom! When is dinner going to be ready?’ start earlier than my sanity can handle. I try to focus on a balance of protein and carbs, offering a variety of choices throughout the week, and I try to make sure it includes fruit to help boost their fruit/veggie count for the day. That may mean a combo of cheese and apple slices, peanut butter and banana or even something like a simple trail mix of whole-grain cereal, raisins and nuts.” ― Regan Jones, a registered dietitian and founding editor at Healthy Aperture

Nut 1.jpg

Natalie Board/EyeEm via Getty Images

Apples with peanut butter or cheese is one snack option.

“I have four kids ages 10 to 17, and I give them various snacks. I sometimes make organic air-popped popcorn with Himalayan pink salt and Barlean’s butter-flavored coconut oil.” ― Rebecca H. Lazar, a registered holistic nutritionist and founder of Real Health and Fitness

Popcorn

“My kids love chocolate avocado mousse and of course peanut butter chocolate chip energy bites!” ― Kelly

“The old-fashioned favorite is homemade cookies (ginger, chocolate chip or oatmeal) with a glass of milk or hot chocolate.” ― Leccisi

Treats

“After-school snacks can be tricky because you don’t want them to eat so much that they’re not hungry for what’s probably their main meal of the day … When my kids played sports, after school they needed a heartier but high-carb snack such as a fruit smoothie with Greek yogurt, oats, a few nuts or peanut butter powder, a grilled cheese sandwich or a bowl of cereal with fruit and milk.” ― Bridget Swinney, a registered dietitian and founder of Eat Right Mama

Carbs

“After school, my kids will grab a yogurt or a few cookies, but I generally serve them dinner around 4:30 p.m. so they aren’t snacking for hours between getting home and having their next meal! That’s my strategy, but I work from home, so this method won’t work for everyone.” ― Abby Langer, a registered dietitian and founder of Abby Langer Nutrition

“A favorite is fruit and yogurt, either separately, as a dip, or in a sort of ‘parfait.’” ― Leccisi

“I make low-fat Greek yogurt dips with fresh or dried herbs. The herbs provide potent antioxidants and lots of flavor without added salt. My daughter also loves red bell pepper slices or baby sweet peppers with dip.” ― Melissa Halas-Liang, registered dietitian and founder of SuperKids Nutrition

Yogurt

nut 4.jpeg

Vesna Jovanovic/EyeEm via Getty Images

Tea can help with hydration.

“My daughter is 13 and prefers to make her own snacks. Her two go-tos are half a baked sweet potato drizzled with natural peanut butter and a side of mixed berries or apple slices with almond butter and cacao powder sprinkled on top.” ― Jacqueline Carly, an integrative and functional nutritionist and creator of Get Planty

Sweet Potato

“My daughter isn’t a big milk fan, so I often make low-fat milk and add a little sugar and vanilla extract. I use a tiny handheld milk frother. It makes it seem fancy but it takes seconds to make and it’s easy to wash. I’ll serve that with any fresh or frozen fruit (served cold).” ― Halas-Liang

 nut 6.jpeg

A baked sweet potato can be the base for a snack.

The Picture Pantry via Getty Images

Milk

“Sometimes I’ll make a vegan chocolate protein shake with banana and almond butter or another type of smoothie … Other snacks are cut-up fruit, or Siggi’s Icelandic yogurt with organic granola added as a topping.” ― Lazar

Protein Shake

“If we are on the go I’ll split a peanut butter sandwich between my toddlers. I always try to pair a protein choice with either a fruit, vegetable, or whole grain so the snack isn’t too filling, but is just enough to hold my children over until dinnertime.” ― Katie Serbinski, a registered dietitian and founder of Mom to Mom Nutrition

Peanut Butter

“A classic is a peanut butter sandwich. Other favorites include fruit pieces like apple or pear with peanut butter as a dip or spread and crackers with cheddar cheese and fruit pieces (apples, pears or clementines), with some olives and pickles on the side.” ― Leccisi 

nut 5.jpeg

KidStock via Getty Images

Air-popped popcorn can be a fun snack.

Sandwich

“If my teenage boys are really hungry, I’ll make an organic mozzarella sandwich with whole-grain spelt bread.” ― Lazar

Soup

“I meal prep soup every week, so sometimes they’ll have a cup of that if it’s ready at the right time.” ― Alaya Wyndham, an intuitive holistic nutritionist

Car-Friendly Food

“I have three kids, and they all have slightly different food preferences. We generally pick them up with the minivan, at least in the winter months, so I choose snacks that are both nutritious as well as non-messy. For my 3-year-old, I often bring shelled pistachios in a snack cup or a banana. My 6-year-old son is ravenous by the time we get him, so I’ll bring him a cheese stick and a granola bar or goodnessKnows snack squares, something with protein. My almost 9-year-old is a carb lover and also gets car sick easily, so I bring her some type of cheddar cracker or veggie chips. She also really likes dried seaweed. When it’s hot outside, they tend to be more thirsty than hungry, so an organic juice, like Capri Sun, is often what I’ll bring them.” ― Frances Largeman-Roth, a registered dietitian nutritionist and author of Eating in Color

‘Mini Meals’

“Snacking has definitely taken on some negative connotations since typical snack foods tend to be synonymous with foods high in fat, sugar and salt. However, I am actually a big proponent of snacks as a way to maintain energy levels and satiate hunger between meals. I think of snacks as mini-meals, meaning, smaller portions but still containing a healthful variety of foods. When it comes to after-school snacks, I generally stick to the following criteria: no more than 200 calories, at least 2 grams of fiber per serving, low in saturated fat (percentage daily value of 5 percent or less per serving), low in sodium (140 milligrams or less per serving), low in added sugar (6 grams or less per serving) and at least two food groups per snack.” ― Ilaria St. Florian, a clinical dietitian at Stamford Hospital

These quotes have been edited and condensed for clarity. 

 

This article was written by Caroline Bologna from Huffington Post and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

What Nutritionists Pack Their Kids For Lunch

Courtesy of Cara Rosenbloom

Kids aren’t exactly known for their refined palates, which can cause issues for parents who want to pack healthy lunches for them to take to school.

But delicious and nutritious options are available ― and they don’t always take a long time to put together.

HuffPost asked a group of nutritionists what they pack in their children’s lunch boxes, and they shared their general guidelines and kid-approved dish ideas.

Edamame

“Like many parents, my wife and I work hard to find the balance between what our kids like and what is good for them. It’s important to us to reduce high-sugar and high-sodium options, which limits options, as many convenience foods tend to be saturated in these ingredients. It’s helpful for us to prepare healthier options at the beginning of the week and keep them in the refrigerator so they’re readily available and convenient when we need them. Our oldest daughter, as an example, likes edamame. Often, when we pack that in her lunch, she ends up sharing with friends who also like to eat them.”  ― Rick Hall, a clinical professor and registered dietitian at Arizona State University

Favorite fruits and veggies

“While my goal is to pack all five food groups in my preschooler’s lunch, I really strive to serve a fruit, vegetable and healthy protein option. My preschooler is given a snack at school that is usually a whole grain, so I load up on his favorite fruits (apples, grapes, bananas) and veggies (cucumber slices, red bell pepper sticks, carrots). And when it comes to protein, he loves individual hummus cups and crackers, or cheese and turkey roll-ups.” ― Katie Serbinski, a registered dietitian and founder of Mom to Mom Nutrition

“Vegetables and fruit top up my kids’ vitamin needs, and add variety and color. Kids eat with their eyes first!” ― Cara Rosenbloom, a registered dietitian and founder of Words To Eat By

 

Courtesy of Cara Rosenbloom

Healthier PB&J

“A typical lunch for our kiddos includes a half sandwich with peanut butter and instead of jelly, fruit like grapes, banana, pomegranates, etc. We combine our professional knowledge in nutrition with our practical knowledge of ‘what will my kids eat’ ― we also often have them help us make their lunches so they have a say in what goes in there. Building off the base of always having a fruit (in this case on the sandwich), veggie (usually to dip), protein (peanut butter) and grain (sprouted grain bread), they can pick and choose from what we have. They love helping and getting involved, and it also teaches autonomy and teaches them how to balance their plates.” ― Christopher Mohr, a registered dietitian and co-founder of Mohr Results with Kara Mohr

“I’m a firm believer in serving something familiar or ‘liked’ when it comes to school lunch, with both something healthy and ‘treats’ mixed in. School is a time when your child might be missing Mom or Dad, so their favorite PB&J or Cheerios trail mix every day isn’t the end of their diet. Just serve a new fruit or veggie with their dinner to make up for it!” ― Serbinski

Whole-grain pasta salad

“One family favorite is pasta primavera salad with roasted tomatoes and chicken with baby spinach. I use whole-grain pasta (bowtie or pinwheel) with tomatoes roasted with crushed garlic (fresh or canned); chicken (shredded or cubed, which I cook in bulk and freeze in individual portions); and pre-washed baby spinach, which I quickly wilt in the microwave (kids like it more than grown-up spinach). Then I add a little lemon juice and olive oil, which makes everything taste better, and toss it all together. For sides, we’re partial to golden kiwi or frozen or fresh chopped mango.” ― Melissa Halas-Liang, registered dietitian and founder of SuperKids Nutrition

 

Courtesy of Cara Rosenbloom

Chicken quesadillas

“One of my kids’ favorite items that my wife packs for them are spicy chicken quesadillas. She prepares them the night before school using organic tortillas, diced pre-cooked spicy chicken and a cheese blend. After cooking on a frying pan, we cut them into triangles and keep in the fridge overnight. They are easy to pack, hold and eat ― and the kids love them. They are often asked to trade with friends who want to eat them. It’s the most popular item we pack and super easy to make.” ― Hall

Yogurt

“I have two children who both have great palates, so I feel lucky that packing lunch is not too much of a challenge. Every day, I pack a mid-morning snack that usually consists of a Siggi’s yogurt tube or goat milk squeeze pouch, cucumbers, baby bell peppers and a portion with a side of hummus for my son. For my daughter, I pack a Siggi’s yogurt tube or goat milk squeeze pouch, cucumbers, berries, cherry tomatoes. On occasion I’ll swap the yogurt out for one hardboiled egg with seaweed.” ― Maya Feller, registered dietitian and owner of Maya Feller Nutrition

Dips for veggies

“We also pack mini peppers, cucumbers or baby carrots and hummus or guacamole to dip the veggies.” ― Mohr

“Sometimes I make Greek yogurt dip with veggies and whole grain crackers, chickpea salad and fruit.” ― Rosenbloom

“I keep pre-bought sliced jicama in stock and we make a lot of dips like this homemade ranch: 2 tablespoons of mayo, 2 tablespoons of nonfat Greek yogurt, 1 teaspoon parmesan cheese, half a teaspoon garlic powder and half a teaspoon dried parsley.” ― Halas-Liang

 

Courtesy of Cara Rosenbloom

Nuts (when possible)

“Other popular items for our kids include foods with peanut butter or nuts.  Unfortunately, they are sometimes limited in taking these foods because of nut allergies of classmates ― but nuts tend to be high in healthy fats and proteins that are both healthy and tasty treats.”  ― Hall

Bean and cheese sushi wrap

“A fun lunch is a bean-and-cheese sushi wrap. Spread mashed black beans with a bit of lemon juice on a whole grain tortilla, sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese, and roll into a tight log. Cut slices just like sushi. Add in orange sunshine. Peel an orange and slice them into thick circles. Veggies would be edamame or sugar snap peas.” ― Halas-Liang

Bento boxes

“When my daughter was in preschool, she loved bento box meal assembly dishes, like smoked Gouda chunks with whole wheat woven crackers (with no added sugar), frozen peas or corn (which she ate frozen), berries or baked apple chunks. We microwaved the chopped apple, then chilled in the fridge. It keeps it from browning and it’s sweeter. We grow cucumbers well into late fall so we add those in too. It was always a hit!” ― Halas-Liang

Quality protein

“My background in nutrition has taught me that kids fare better in school ― both academically and physically ― when their lunch is nutritious and provides long-lasting energy. That’s why there is always a source of good-quality protein in their lunchbox (chickpeas, cheese, Greek yogurt, chicken, lentils, etc.) and some slow-burning, high-fiber whole grains, like quinoa, whole-grain pasta or oats.

My kids’ lunches are made with vegetables, fruit, whole grains and something high in protein. Some of their favorite combos are: cubes of chicken, grape tomatoes and cucumbers on a skewer, with whole grain crackers and fruit; a turkey or cheese sandwich with lettuce and tomato on whole grain, and fruit; and quinoa and bean salad with string cheese, carrots, peppers and fruit.” ― Rosenbloom

 

Courtesy of Cara Rosenbloom

Flavor, texture and variety

“When I’m building my kids’ meals I think about variety, temperature, texture, flavor and of course nutrition. Lunch is usually one of the following with a side of fruit and vegetable: bean and rice burrito, veggie dumplings (tofu and cabbage), soup with a side of fruit, spinach and cheese tortellini with a nut-free sauce (the school has a strong nut policy), homemade salmon salad with carrots and celery topped with tzatziki on a whole wheat English muffin, or a spinach and potato patty inside of a whole wheat English muffin.

Children are in a phase of growth and development and ideally their foods should support this. My goal for my children is to give them healthy options that they love, so they will eat and have the energy they need to focus and engage during school hours, play and continue to grow. I aim to send them with a tasty balanced meal that supplies vitamins and minerals from whole and minimally processed sources.” ― Feller

Leftovers

“Lunches for my children are nearly always leftovers from dinner the night before. I like to start with the vegetables first, such as sautéed broccoli, roasted Brussels sprouts, or cauliflower mash. We always supplement with additional vegetables, which are typically raw, such as avocado, cherry tomatoes, peppers (though never green ones) and celery. If we include animal protein in the lunch, it can be roasted chicken, hard-cooked eggs, lamb or beef ― basically whatever we may have had for dinner. If there is no animal protein available or if that’s not preferred, we add sunflower butter in an individual packets, raw almonds or walnuts, or hemp seeds. Juices, carbonated beverages, sweetened drinks and milk are never included. Always pure water.” ― Laura Lagano, a registered dietitian and owner of Laura Lagano Nutrition

“Family favorites include supper leftovers in a thermos (pasta, soup, stew) along with fruit (of kids’ choosing) and a couple of homemade cookies.” ― Katja Leccisi, a registered dietitian nutritionist and author of How To Feed Your Kids: Four Steps To Raising Healthy Eaters

Dessert?

“People always ask about dessert. In an effort to encourage children to focus on vegetables first, I suggest not putting fruit in the lunch box until you’re certain that your youngster craves the vegetables. And, when you do include fruit, start by opting for the lower-sugar fruit such as organic strawberries and raspberries.” ― Lagano

“Sometimes I add a small treat, like some chocolate chips or my homemade no-bake granola bites.” ― Rosenbloom

“My kids always also get a dessert ― usually something homemade, like cookies, muffins or date squares.” ― Leccisi

 

Courtesy of Cara Rosenbloom

Safe choices

“When I pack my children’s lunches, I always think food safety first and include adequate ice packs to keep cold foods cold.” ― Halas-Liang

“My expertise in nutrition shaped my choices by thinking about food safety, temperature controls and balanced nutrition to prevent childhood obesity and reducing refined products. I also teach my kids to recognize foods as ‘everyday’ versus ‘sometimes’ foods. Therefore they are aware of what foods make them healthy eaters, readers and leaders.” ― Tambra Raye Stevenson, founder and culinary nutritionist at NativSol Kitchen

Rule of three

“I avoid the three S’s: stinky (like fish); sticky (like maple syrup); and soft drinks (too much sugar).” ― Rosenbloom

“For a balanced lunch, I aim for three plant-based colors, plenty of fiber and a good source of protein. ― Halas-Liang

Meal prep

“It’s not just about what you pack, but when you pack it. Make packing lunch the night before part of the nighttime routine ― for us, it’s eat dinner, clean up kitchen and pack lunches. You’re not rushed and can make better decisions vs. adding one more thing to the already crazy mornings as everyone is trying to get out the door.” ― Mohr

“I think it’s easy to get stressed out about packing lunch. To avoid this, I usually pack after dinner or during the after-school snack if I’m home. That way the food is already out. Plus I keep a few sets of containers, some of which are dishwasher-safe. I also don’t make everything from scratch, but do a lot of meal assembly! It’s quicker and with so many healthy options, like beans from a can or pre-washed spinach, it’s easier. And I like to include a quote or little note when I have time.” ― Halas-Liang

Quotes have been edited and condensed for clarity.

 

This article was written by Caroline Bologna from Huffington Post and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.