How do you make a packed school lunch tasty and fun but also full of nutritious food? Tara Rochford, Registered Dietitian and Healthy Living Blogger, puts the emphasis in the color! Everyone eats with their eyes and a variety of colors are pretty to look at AND typically mean a food is packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Have your children help you while meal planning or at the grocery store by picking foods from each color group. Example – when you are shopping you could ask them to grab a red bell pepper, or a purple cabbage. Because they helped you pick out these colorful foods, they will hopefully be more likely to enjoy them when you serve them. Tara prepares a homemade hummus and adds spinach in right from the start, but to save time, you could easily blend fresh spinach into store-bought hummus to add that green color and boost of nutrients. Homemade Hummus
● 1 can chickpeas, low sodium
● 2 cups raw spinach
● 1 lemon, juiced
● 1 tsp cumin
● 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
● 3 Tbsp water
● 2 Tbsp chives
● ¼ tsp sea salt
● ⅛ tsp black pepper
1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor until creamy.
2. Serve with your favorite dippers (raw vegetables, rice crackers, tortilla chips, you name it!)
A simple and pretty successful way to get anyone to enjoy more vegetables is to include fun shapes! The Rainbow Sushi Sandwiches are a fun shape and include lots of colors, but you could also use cookie cutters to cut vegetables and fruit into stars or hearts.
Rainbow Sushi Sandwiches
● 4 slices whole grain bread (can be gluten free if necessary)
● 8 tsp hummus
● 1/2 carrot, grated (about 2 Tbsp of grated carrot)
● 2 Tbsp grated or shredded purple cabbage
● 8 cucumber slices
1. Roll each piece of bread very flat with a rolling pin.
2. On each slice of bread, spread 2 tsp hummus. Then, top one end of the bread with 1 1/2 tsp of grated carrot and 1 1/2 tsp shredded purple cabbage (1 Tbsp total). Add 2 skinny slices of cucumber and 2 skinny slices of tomato.
3. Roll the bread very tightly starting with the end that contains the ingredients.
4. Cut into 4 slices.
5. serving is 8 slices (2 slices of bread)
You may wonder how there is time in the busy work week to prepare lunch? Tara’s number one tip is to prep ahead; start by creating a list of meals for the week (breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks). Use family recipes, recipes that can be improvised, or find recipes online from blogs or Pinterest. Make your grocery list based on the recipes you and your family have picked, and as soon as you bring the items home, get them ready for your recipes! Wash and chop your vegetables, portion out berries or grapes, and plan how you want to cook your protein. For the Rainbow Sushi Sandwiches, you can chop and shred all of your ingredients ahead of time, so that all you need to do the night before or the morning of is assemble the sandwich. You could even prepare a little extra of each vegetable in toss them into a lunch time salad or grain bowl for yourself.
The Rainbow Sushi Sandwiches are a healthy lunch option because the hummus is made from chickpeas which contain plant protein (helps you stay fuller for longer), and B vitamins (keeps you in a good mood), carrots which contain beta carotene (converted to vitamin A, which is good for your vision), purple cabbage a good source of vitamin C (our bodies use to keep our immune system strong and aids in wound healing), cucumber a vegetable that is high in water and helps with hydration, and tomatoes which have lycopene (an antioxidant). All of these vegetables contain fiber (good for digestion and helps you feel full) and provide nutrients our body doesn’t make, which means we need to get them from the food we eat!
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