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Ideas for the Lunch-Box Brigade

Every mom or dad who makes lunches for kids knows the goals: avoid total jettisoning of lunch into trash by picky eater; hope she or he doesn’t trade healthy apple for can of soda; nudge the menu past the old standbys before complete boredom sets in on Day 123 (kids need lunches, on average, 180 times a year). Here are a few strategies built around some core preferences

Pizza + Carrot Crunch

Low-fat ranch doubles as a dip for both pizza and veggies.

½ CL Pizzadilla + 10 baby carrots + 1 tablespoon low-fat ranch + 1 (4-oz.) cup unsweetened applesauce

Stats: 250 calories, 3.4g sat fat, 594mg sodium

The Pita Pocketeer

Low-fat Greek yogurt is the base for this tangy chicken salad. Chocolate kisses are perfectly portioned treats.

CL Creamy Chicken Salad (1/2 cup) with mixed greens in half a 6-inch whole-wheat pita + 1 medium apple + 4 milk chocolate kisses

Stats: 446 calories, 4.6g sat fat, 451mg sodium

Beefy Sammie + Fruit Stick

Sandwiches can pile up sodium. Balance it with no-salt sides.

Sandwich: 2 oz. lower-sodium roast beef, lettuce, 2 slices tomato, 1/2-oz. slice white cheddar, 2 teaspoons light mayo on whole-grain bread + 2 pineapple and strawberry fruit kebabs + 1/2 oz. unsalted peanuts

Stats: 456 calories, 6g sat fat, 508mg sodium

Whole-Wheat PB&J

An old favorite gets a healthy spin with a WW bagel. 1 tablespoon peanut butter, 2 teaspoons jam on 1 mini whole-wheat bagel + 1 oz. whole-grain chips (about 16) + 1 small banana Stats: 467 calories, 2.6g sat fat, 413mg sodium

For the Rabbits

Give salad greens some oomph with lots of lean protein. Mixed greens, 2 oz. rotisserie chicken, 1 tablespoon sliced almonds, 1/4 cup chopped tomatoes, 1 hard-cooked egg, 2 tablespoons oil-and-vinegar dressing + 2 cups 94%-fat-free popcorn + 1 orange, peeled Stats: 444 calories, 4g sat fat, 460mg sodium

 

Let’s Get Mediterranean

Make-ahead couscous can yield several lunches.

CL Couscous Salad (3/4 cup) + 2 tablespoons hummus + 8 whole-wheat pita chips + 1 cup fresh grapes

Stats: 430 calories, 2.2g sat fat, 715mg sodium

 

The Cafeteria Club

Save the cheese for the skewers, and opt for tasty guacamole instead of mayo for the wrap. Slice the wrap into medallions and skewer on toothpicks for less mess at lunchtime. Wrap: 1 oz. oven roasted turkey breast, 1/2 oz. low sodium ham, 1 slice crumbled center cut bacon, 1 tablespoon guacamole on half a whole wheat wrap (such as Flatout) + tomato mozzarella skewer (cut one lower sodium part-skim mozzarella stick into fourths and skewer with cherry tomatoes alternately) + 8 vanilla wafers Stats: 439 calories, 6g sat fat, 795 mg sodium

Lunch box meals are an enormously difficult challenge. You need to have the ability to create a meal that will dazzle a tiny human (no small feat), have the staying power to last in a little box that’s been tossed around in a kids backpack and probably sit at room temperature for a while, be quick to throw together the night before, and packed with nutrition. It’s not surprising that I find it easier to plan my Thanksgiving menu than a weeks’ worth of unique lunch box ideas.

 Strawberries are one of my favorite items to include in the lunch box, she loves strawberries as much as she loves candy but they have incredible health benefits that my growing tiny human needs in her little body. Strawberries are a super food, packed with fiber and vitamin C, plus strawberries are one of the most antioxidant dense fruits, packed with cancer fighters.

But more than anything, they’re so pretty. I know she’ll reach right for them. The sauce I make is just a combination of apple sauce and strawberries giving it a gorgeous natural pink color that inspired her to name it “Princess Sauce.” When trying to move my family away from all artificial food coloring, strawberries are the perfect way to add stunning color in a natural and health filled way.

I also really love to make her these Strawberry Peanut butter Burritos. The sliced berries hold up better to a lunch box environment better than jam, there isn’t the risk of soggy bread. She also loves that it’s different than your average sandwich.

This lunch box meal takes less than ten minutes to throw together, and it’s packed with fiber, antioxidants, and general goodness, although she only sees fun finger food. Just the way I want it.

Strawberry Lovers Lunch

Ingredients

Peanut Butter Strawberry Burritos

  • 1 6-inch flour tortilla
  • 3 tbs creamy peanut butter
  • ½ cup fresh sliced strawberries

Apples Heart Strawberries

  • 1 granny smith apple
  • 2-3 large strawberries

Princess Sauce

  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup sliced strawberries

Instructions

For the peanut butter strawberry burritos:

  1. Spread the peanut butter liberally across the tortilla
  2. Lay the strawberry slices in an even layer on top of the peanut butter, overlapping slightly.
  3. Roll up into a burrito.
  4. Slice in half, if desired.

For the apples:

  1. Cut the apple in half across the middle (rather than down the stem) Slice into 4 to 6 (½ inch) rings.
  2. Using a small cookie cutter (I prefer a heart shape) remove the core.
  3. Slice the strawberries down the center, through the leaves.
  4. Using the same cookie cutter used to cut the apples, cut a shape out of each strawberry half. Place the strawberry in the hole in the center of the apple.

For the Princess Sauce:

  1. Add apples sauce and strawberries to a small blender or food processor.
  2. Process until smooth.

 

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