Recipe: Healthy Make-Ahead School Lunches

Give your child a healthy start at school with these lunch ideas from Lisa Suriano of Veggiecation®!

September 07, 2016 | HF Healthy Living Team

This is a guest post from Lisa Suriano, founder of Veggiecation, a premier school foodservice consulting company for independent schools.

Whether you have six kids or one, it’s a challenge to create five meals a week that are not only exciting to eat but also maintain their flavor for the three to four hours between breakfast and lunch.

Some tips on how to create the perfect lunch for your child are to:

  • Include him or her when food shopping
  • Keep in mind the four main food groups (grain, protein, fruit, veggie)
  • Mix in different textures and colors
  • Fuel your little one’s brain and body with nutritious recipes and healthy substitutions, like the ones below

Nutritious Recipes

Check out this amazing Miso Basil Pesto that’s packed with nutrients. Serve over a hearty whole wheat pasta and with chopped broccoli for a healthy, balanced lunch.

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Miso Basil Pesto
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups packed, coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
  2. ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  3. 1½ cloves garlic, chopped
  4. 2 tbsps. miso paste
  5. Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Wash the basil, remove the stems, and pat the leaves dry with paper towels.
  2. Chop the leaves coarsely and measure, packing them firmly down into the measuring cup.
  3. Place the basil, olive oil, and garlic in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
  4. Add miso paste and process until combined.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Notes
  1. Tools and Equipment:
  2. Colander
  3. Paper Towels
  4. Cutting Board
  5. Knife
  6. Measuring Cup
  7. Food Processor
  8.  
  9. Also great with roasted sweet potatoes!
Healthy Living http://hfhealthyliving.org/
 
 

Salads can be tricky to eat and might seem boring next to the chicken fingers being served on the lunch line. Jazz up a simple salad with rice paper wraps and use an easy-to-make dressing, like this one!

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Snap Peas with Carrot Ginger Dressing
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 lb. snap peas; snip the ends and wash
  2. 1¼ cups canola oil
  3. ¾ cup rice wine vinegar
  4. ⅓ cup tamari sauce or soy sauce
  5. 1 cup diced carrots
  6. ⅓ cup diced onions
  7. 1 clove garlic, minced
  8. 1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
  9. Sesame oil to taste, if desired
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients except the snap peas in a blender and process until smooth.
Notes
  1. Tools and Equipment:
  2. Blender
  3. Measuring Cups
  4. Measuring Spoons
  5. Cutting Board
  6. Knife
  7.  
  8. Serve dressing with raw snap peas or any other of your favorite crudités. Great on greens and tofu as well!
Healthy Living http://hfhealthyliving.org/
 
 

Kids go crazy for this sweet and savory salsa. Serve over brown rice and make sure to let some of that juice drip onto the rice!

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ZBP Salsa
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 medium zucchini, diced into ¼-inch pieces
  2. ½ cup pineapple, diced into ¼-inch pieces
  3. 1 15-oz. can of black beans
  4. 1 tbsp. chopped cilantro (optional)
  5. 3 tbsps. olive oil
  6. 2 tbsps. pineapple juice
  7. 1 tbsp. lime juice
  8. ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  9. ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  10. Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, pineapple juice, lime juice, cumin, salt, and pepper. Whisk together.
  2. In a large bowl, combine diced zucchini, diced pineapple, and black beans.
  3. Pour the liquid in the small bowl over the produce in the large bowl. Toss thoroughly.
  4. Add chopped cilantro. Toss again.
Notes
  1. To save money on ingredients, use the juice from the can to make the salsa dressing.
Healthy Living http://hfhealthyliving.org/
 
 

Healthy Substitutions

Mayonnaise. As much as some love a little mayo, it’s packed with unhealthy fats and sodium.

Use hummus or pesto instead of mayo. Both spread easily and keep bread moist, like mayo, but while providing brain powering nutrients, too. Swap the mayo in tuna salad for some balsamic vinegar and a little olive oil—this will make it lighter, cleaner-tasting, and healthier!

Cookies. Processed sugars and flours are never the way to go if you’re trying to promote whole, healthy foods in your household.

Instead, try this homemade sweet treat: combine two parts pitted date and one part pecan (walnuts and cashews also work) in a blender or food processor until the texture is similar to that of Play-doh. Mold into small balls with your hands. Add dark chocolate chips for extra flavor. The natural fibers, minerals, and nutrients in this recipe will keep your little one energized throughout the day—without the sugar crash!

Chips. High in sodium and calories, chips are not only bad for your health but they’re also addictive. Substitute some homemade popcorn with salt, garlic powder, and maybe some nutritional yeast for a cheese-like flavor.

Rice crackers are low-calorie and also provide a salty crunch. As always, check ingredients and the nutritional information before purchasing any product.

 
Lisa Suriano
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About Lisa Suriano
Lisa Suriano is a certified nutritionist who holds a Master’s Degree in Nutrition and Food Science and specializes in school food service as the Director of Operations for J.C. Food, a premier school food service consulting company for independent schools. Lisa founded the evidence-based, culinary-nutrition education program Veggiecation®, which introduces thousands of children and families to the delicious world of vegetables. She is thrilled to partner with Healthfirst to help introduce practical and palate-pleasing ideas for incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetables into the lives of the community!
 

 

© 2016 HF Management Services, LLC.

Healthfirst is the brand name used for products and services provided by one or more of the Healthfirst group of affiliated companies.

This health information or program is for educational purposes only and not intended to treat, diagnose, or act as a substitute for medical advice from your provider. Consult your healthcare provider and always follow your healthcare provider’s instructions.

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