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Banishing Brown Bag Boredom!

10 Not-so-Nutty ideas to help Moms packing school lunches.

 

#1 Cooky Carrot Salad Sandwich

Every-bunny will love this unexpected sandwich filling and it’s great for incorporating leftovers. The crunch of carrots in a sour-sweet dressing contrasts nicely with the richness of cream cheese.

Cooky Cucumber and Carrot Salad Sandwich
Makes 1 sandwich - Serves 1-2, depending on age and appetite.

Ingredients:
2 slices whole grain bread
1 tablespoon cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup Cooky Cucumber and Carrot Salad, see below

Directions:
1. Divide the cream cheese between the two slices of bread, spreading thinly to the edges.

2. Spoon the salad evenly onto one slice of bread and place the second over to cover.

3. Pack with fruit, baked snack mix and a yogurt drink.

*Cut the crust off and make into ears so the sandwich looks like a rabbit!

Cooky Cucumber and Carrot Salad Recipe:

Ingredients:
1 cup grated carrots (2 large carrots)
1/2 cup grated cucumber (1/2 – 1 cucumber)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian (flat leaf) parsley
3 Tablespoons chopped raisins
1 Tablespoons red-wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste

Directions:
1. In a bowl, mix the carrots, parsley, and raisins. Add salt and pepper.

2. Mix in the vinegar and then the mayonnaise and stir well to evenly distribute the dressing. Taste for seasoning.

*The salad can be made the night before. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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#2 Taco Pockets

Serves 1-2, depending on age and appetite.

Only need five ingredients for these yummy healthy pockets, packed with all the fun of taco night. Note: toasting the tortilla shells seals in the cheese filling, making for a clean and tidy lunch box.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup canned frozen corn
2 Tablespoons grated cheddar cheese
2 Tablespoons tomato salsa
1 10-inch flour tortilla

Directions:
1. In a small bowl, combine the beans, corn, cheddar and salsa, stirring to combine.

2. Place filling into the center of the tortilla. Then roll it up, burrito-style with ends closed, to encase the filling.

3. Toast, seam side down, in a non-stick pan over medium heat until golden brown. Repeat on other side and refrigerate overnight.

4. For added filling and nutrition add lunch meat and/or lettuce!

#3 Sushi Sandwiches

Serves 1-2, depending on age and appetite.

Ingredients:
2 sandwich bread slices, flattened
4 cucumber and 4 carrot matchsticks, (each 6 inches long)
3 tablespoons cream cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons sour cream

Directions:
1. Make cream cheese spread by mixing the cream cheese and sour cream together.

2. Flatten bread slices with a rolling pin. Spread cream-cheese mixture over slices.

3. Lay 2 carrot and 2 cucumber matchsticks at the bottom of each slice -- let ends hand over edges.

4. Roll up bread, pressing gently to seal, then cut each roll into 4 equal pieces.

*For an extra touch experiment with fun alternative ingredients and roll into funny faces!

#4 Hungry Ham Spirals

Makes 1; 10-inch burrito. Serves 1-2, depending on age and appetite of child.

Dress up the tired ham and cheese sandwich by rolling in a wrap and serving with fun dipping sauces - honey and grainy mustard adds a little spice, BBQ sauce is fun and fat free ranch always is a fan favorite!

Toasting the sandwich crisps the tortilla and makes it easier to chew. These wraps are also good with leftover chicken or turkey, too.

Ingredients:
1 10-inch whole wheat tortilla
2 thin slices provolone, Swiss, provolone, or other cheese that's good for melting
2 slices roasted ham (substitute lunch meat of choice)

Directions:
1. On the tortilla, lay out the two slices of cheese, then the ham on top. Roll, burrito-style, with sides tucked in.

2. In a nonstick pan over medium heat, toast the roll, seam side down, to seal. Repeat with remaining sides until golden all over. Chill overnight.

Serve with the dipping sauce of choice!
Sauces (make one or all):
2 tsp. mild grainy mustard + 1 tsp. honey mixed together.
3 Tablespoons fat-free ranch dressing
3 Tablespoons BBQ

Pack for lunch and set aside.

#5 Homemade Pizza Bites

Makes 12; 2 inch tart shells

Pizza bites – easy and delicious – and who doesn’t want pizza for lunch?!

Ingredients:
18 slices turkey pepperoni
18 slices zucchini
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup grated mozzarella
12 mini (2-inch) tart shells, defrosted according to manufacturer's instruction if frozen

Directions:
1. Preheat an oven to 400° F.

2. Arrange the tart shells on a baking sheet and tuck in a slice of pepperoni, then zucchini, pepperoni, and then zucchini again.

3. Top each with about a tablespoon of sauce and a sprinkling of cheese.

4. Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until the pastry is cooked and the cheese is golden.

5. Cool, and then refrigerate overnight. Pops out of tins if desired, then pack a few!

#6 Construction-Site Chicken Salad:

Makes about 5 one-cup servings

Every kid likes a de-constructed lunch where they can mix and match the ingredients to construct to their taste preferences!

Ingredients:
3 stalks celery, diced
1 medium sweet yellow onion, diced
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
2 (12 ounces total) boneless, skinless chicken breasts; cooked and shredded
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 medium Pink Lady or sweet apple; cored and small diced
1 cup canned mandarin orange segments
¼ cup dried cherries or raisins

Serve with any of the following:
8 one cup canning jars with lids
8 Give the kids cheese chunks, veggies and crackers to top
8 (small) pita bread pockets
8 Bibb lettuce leaves for lettuce cups

Directions:
1. In a medium bowl mix celery, onion, carrot, and chicken.

2. Add chicken; cover and simmer until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a bowl; let cool, then shred with two forks. Discard contents of pan.
3. Stir together mayonnaise, lemon juice, and mustard in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in chicken, sliced celery, and almonds. Gently fold in orange segments.
4. Serve in small cup size canning jar or container with dippers, Bibb lettuce leaves (for lettuce cups), or small pita bread pockets

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#7 Pasta Salad

Serves 2, depending on age and appetite.

Ingredients:
2 cups macaroni or other short pasta
1 1/2 cups chopped spinach
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
¼ cup salami or turkey pepperoni, chopped
½ cup fresh basil, chopped
½ - 1 cup fresh mozzarella, chopped into cubes
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Cook pasta according to the package directions; drain and rinse under cold water. Toss in a large bowl with the spinach, basil, grape tomatoes, mozzarella, and salami.

2. Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.

3. Toss vinaigrette over salad and serve!

#8 Dippers

Serves 2, depending on age and appetite.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
1 small scallion, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste
1 carrot, peeled and julienned into dipping sticks
1 small cucumber, julienned into dipping sticks
¼ red pepper, julienned into dipping sticks

Directions:
1. In a small bowl, combine yogurt, mayonnaise, sour cream, and scallion. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper.
2. Serve with carrot sticks, cucumbers, peppers, and/or breadsticks or any of your favorite vegetables.

#9 Pick-me-up Parfaits

Ingredients:
1 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup granola
1-2 cups mixed fresh berries, such as raspberries and blueberries
2 teaspoons honey

Directions:
1. Spoon 1/4 cup yogurt into each of the two glasses, lunch containers, or small bowls.
2. Top each with ¼ cup granola and berries. Drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon honey.
3. Repeat to make another layer using remaining ingredients.
4. Serve immediately or refrigerate!

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#10 Cereal Bars

Makes about 24 bars

These are a tasty retro remix on the rice crispy treat!

Ingredients:
Nonstick cooking spray
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 bag (10 ounces) marshmallows
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 cups toasted oat cereal
1 cup dried fruit chopped apricots, cranberries, and/or raisins

Directions:
1. Spray a 10-by-15-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Line with waxed paper; spray paper with cooking spray, and set aside.

2. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add marshmallows and salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until marshmallows have melted, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in cereal and dried fruit.

3. Immediately transfer mixture to prepared baking sheet. Using a spatula (or your fingers) coated with cooking spray, press in quickly and firmly. Let cool, about 1 hour; cut into 24 bars (3 rows lengthwise by 8 rows crosswise).

 

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