Recently, I did a presentation with a partner on healthy school lunches and snacks as part of my work as a volunteer Community Food Advisor.
Here are the recipes and food ideas we shared with them:
Best Hummus Ever
1 (540 mL) can chickpeas (rinsed and drained) 1 (19 oz)
25 mL tahini 2 tbsp
45 mL lemon juice 3 tbsp
2 mL salt 1/2 tsp
2 large clovers garlic 2
1 green onion 1
50 mL boiling water 1/4 cup
In a blender or food processor, combine chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, salt, garlic white, some of the green onion (reserving some for texture) and boiling water. Blend until smooth. Stir in rest of chopped part of green onion. This dip keeps in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Spread some dip inside a whole wheat pita; fill with raw or roasted red pepper, grated carrots and shredded lettuce. Or serve with the chips below:
Pita or Tortilla Chips
Cut the pitas or flour or corn tortillas into wedges. With the pitas, you may also want to split them open as well. You can very lightly brush them with olive oil or spray with olive oil cooking spray. The chips can be left plain or you can experiment with your favourite seasonings. Bake at 350-375 degrees. I found the tortilla chips took 5-10 minutes and the pita chips took 12-15 minutes.
Baked Tofu Sticks
Cut tofu into sticks resembling French fries. Arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with a double layer of paper towels or a clean tea towel. Place more towels on top of the tofu. Place another baking sheet on top of all of this and weigh down with heavy cans for about 20 minutes or up to 1 hour until all excess liquid is gone from the tofu. These sticks can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days before cooking. Lightly brush a baking sheet with olive oil or spray with olive oil cooking spray. Pat the tofu dry and place on the baking sheet. Tofu can be seasoned with your choice of seasonings if desired. Bake the tofu at 375 degrees for about 12-15 minutes, flipping over half way through the time. It should be crisp and golden brown. These can be served warm or at room temperature.
Vegetable Cheese Spread for Sandwiches
1 cup of cottage cheese, “pureed” in a blender. Add your choice of vegetables – I used 1/2 carrot, grated, and 1/4 cucumber, minced but green onions, peppers, broccoli, and zucchini are other good options.
Chicken and Apple Patties
1 boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked and cut into 2 inch pieces
3/4 cup cooked quinoa
2 T. Applesauce
1/2 medium apple, grated
1/2 carrot, grated
2 green onions, coarsely chopped (if desired)
A bit of olive oil or olive oil cooking spray to coat the skillet
Put chicken (and green onions, if using) in a food processor and pulse until coarsely pureed. In a bowl, mix together the chicken, quinoa, applesauce, apple, and carrot. Form into patties. Patties can be put in fridge for up to 2 days or in freezer for up to 1 month until ready to cook. Brush a thin layer in the skillet or spray on cooking spray. You might even be able to get away without any oil or spray if using a nonstick skillet. Cook patties on both sides until golden brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Serve warm or at room temperature. You may want to serve with extra applesauce for dipping.
Some other food ideas:
Make fruit or vegetable/cheese kabobs by threading soft cheese and fruits onto pretzel sticks. You can also use clean popsicle sticks but watch out for the skewers as the points on them can be dangerous. Make sure your children are old enough for these and that they don’t pose a choking hazard.
Put out a selection of cereals, dried fruits, and so on and let your children make their own trail mix by choosing their favourites and mixing together
Lettuce bundles: use lettuce as wraps instead of tortillas – fill with things like leftover meat such as chicken, shredded vegetables, shredded cheese, yogurt, fruits, and so on
Pear salad – use a canned pear half as the body of a bunny; place on a bed of lettuce and add a tail made of yogurt or cottage cheese, shredded carrot whiskers, raisin eyes, dried cranberry nose, a couple small vegetable sticks as the ears….or have your kids come up with other alternatives
Egg creatures – cut a hard boiled egg in half and lay yolk side down; use things like alfalfa sprouts for hair, pretzels for arms and legs, sunflower seed eyes, and so on. With radish slice ears, you could turn it into a mouse instead of a person.
Mini sandwiches – use things like cucumber or zucchini slices in place of the bread
Spiral sandwiches – flatten a piece of bread slightly and spread on something like egg salad; roll up as if making a wrap and then slice into spirals; you can put something like a strip of vegetable or pickle in the middle before rolling up
Salad in a bag – give your child a baggie and a selection of cut up vegetables, salad greens, cheese, leftover meat, and so on; they can fill the bag with these and put some salad dressing in a little container; at school, they open the bag, pour in the dressing, close bag again and shake to toss the salad – as a variation you can put crushed tortilla chips, cheese, and taco meat in this to have a taco salad
Parfaits – layer yogurt, fruits, cereals to make a typical yogurt cup extra special
When you make pancakes, make a few extra silver dollar sized ones and keep in the freezer. Top with fruit or spread with a fruit spread and roll up as a lunch or snack that’s a bit different.