Magazine article Working Mother

Lunchbox ABCs

Magazine article Working Mother

Lunchbox ABCs

Article excerpt

Kids need more than pens and paper to ace the school year. So wrap up these easy power-packed choices to keep mind and body engines running full steam ahead.

cookbook of the month

We've all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Still, mom of three Amanda Grant, the author of Healthy Lunchboxes for Kids, knows a nutritious lunch is also key to keeping kids alert and energetic on busy school days. From basic tips for packing a balanced lunch to quick and easy recipes, Grant helps busy moms prepare fast food that's good food.

Cheese Twists

MAKES: 30 TWISTS

PREP TIME: 15 MINUTES

COOK TIME: 8 TO 10 MINUTES

Shake up snacktime by packing these cheesy treats along with hummus or your child's favorite dip.

1 (8.5-ounce) sheet puff pastry, thawed according to package directions

1 cup grated sharp cheese (such as cheddar, Parmesan or a combination of both)

2 tablespoons jarred pesto (optional)

1. Heat oven to 400F. Coat 2 baking sheets with nonstick spray; set aside.

2. Carefully unfold puff pastry onto a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle cheese over half of the dough, then fold the plain half over the cheese-covered half. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the pastry back out to its original size (about 9 by 12 inches). Spread pesto over half the dough (if not using, skip to step 3). Fold the plain half over the pesto side and again roll out to original size.

3. Cut the dough into 30 strips. Holding one end of a strip in each hand, turn strip ends in opposite directions to make a twist. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining strips, spacing twists slightly apart on baking sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until twists are lightly browned; transfer to cooling rack. Serve twists warm or cool completely; store in an airtight container.

Cereal Bars

MAKES: 16 BARS

PREP TIME: 15 MINUTES

COOK TIME: 15 TO 18 MINUTES

These energizing granola-like bars are loaded with protein, fiber and vitamins-perfect for a midmorning pick-me-up or an afternoon snack.

½ cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

2/3 cup corn syrup or brown rice syrup

2 ½ cups rolled oats (regular, not quick cooking)

3 ½ ounces mixed seeds (such as sunflower and pumpkin).

2 ounces dried fruit (such as raisins, cranberries or chopped apricots)

1. Heat oven to 35°F. Coat an 8- by 8-inch pan with nonstick spray; set aside.

2. Combine oil, sugar and syrup in a medium pot and cook over mediumlow heat until the sugar dissolves. Add oats, seeds and dried fruit and stir to mix well. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake 15 to 18 minutes, until the edges are golden.

3. Let cool 10 minutes, then mark into 16 even squares using the tip of a knife. Let cool completely and cut along marks into bars. Serve cereal bars immediately or store in an airtight container.

Falafel in Pita

SERVES: 6

PREP TIME: 8 MINUTES

COOK TIME: 15 MINUTES

Chickpeas, the main ingredient in these quickand easy falafel, are filled with fiber and protein-and this is a great way to get your kids to eat them. These Middle Eastern-style patties are sautéed instead of deep-fried, which makes them lighter and healthier. Be sure to let the delicate falafel cool completely before assembling the pita pockets.

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed

2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

Handful freshly chopped cilantro or mint

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

3 whole-grain pitas, cut in half

½ cup shredded lettuce or mixed baby greens

2 plum tomatoes, sliced

Mango chutney for garnish (optional)

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