Time to consider healthy lunch box treats

August 14, 2013 

Most, but not all, school districts are back in session, and parents or guardians are looking for healthy lunch box ideas and afternoon snacks.

Having had a child who usually threw her homemade or even school-prepared lunches in the trash, I know how hard it is to please picky eaters. I wanted the lunches to be nutritious, but the food also had to be something she would eat.

Yes, there were days when she was in private school that I would take chicken bites and fries to her just so she would not go through the day without eating. Was that the best route? Probably not.

Deborah Colby, executive director of Gulf Coast Health Educators based in Pass Christian, Miss., has a suggestion that I would have used when Elyssa was in school. This recipe is one that I would make for my lunch.

"I wanted to pass on a recipe we use in our cooking demos with our Healthy Lifestyles Weight Loss classes and our Healthy Kids Healthy Families trainings," she said. "It is a quick, easy sandwich wrap. It also is a great lunchbox idea as school gets underway."

CHICKEN WRAP

1 whole-wheat tortilla

2 ounces sliced chicken breast

1 lettuce large lettuce leaf or1/4 cup baby spinach

1/2 apple thinly sliced

2 tablespoons low-sugar dried cran-raisins

2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

1 tablespoon light ranch dressing

Spread tortilla wrap with 1 tablespoon light ranch dressing. Layer lettuce leaf or baby spinach leaves, sliced chicken breast, apple slices, cran raisins and feta cheese. Fold in the sides of the tortilla and wrap. Serves 1.

Note: You can substitute other fruits instead of apples or try

mozzarella cheese instead of feta.

-- Submitted by Deborah Colby

YOGURT PLUS

Here's an easy way to cover the food pyramid in one delicious snack.

Start with 8 ounces plain or vanilla low-fat yogurt. Add one of the following from each group:

Fruits: sliced strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, chopped apricots, fresh or dried, chopped apples, sliced bananas, sectioned oranges, raisins or other dried fruits, chopped dates, halved grapes, sliced kiwi, cubed melon, sliced peaches, diced pineapple.

Vegetables: Shredded carrots, diced celery, chopped cucumber, chopped red or yellow bell pepper, diced tomato, sliced jicama.

Nuts and seeds: sunflower kernels, sliced almonds, sesame seeds, reduced fat peanut butter, chopped walnuts or pecans.

This snack from the same cookbook was one of my child's favorites.

PETER COTTONTAILS

1 (3-ounce) package nonfat cream cheese

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup finely shredded carrots

1/2 cup Grape Nuts cereal

Beat cheeses together until blended. Stir in carrots. Cover and chill. Shape into balls; roll in cereal and chill until ready to serve. Makes 16 balls.

Nutritional data: calories, 36; protein, 2 grams; carbohydrates, 4.5 grams; fat, 1.2 grams; 30 percent calories from fat.

More on molasses

Judith Villare of Bradenton shares some more molasses recipes including a gingerbread that is topped with a basic lemon sauce and two different cookie recipes. The whole-wheat cookie recipe also would be a good healthy snack.

OLD-FASHIONED MOLASSES COOKIES

1 cup stone ground 100 percent whole-wheat flour

3/4 cup unbleached white flour with wheat germ

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup soft shortening or butter

3/4 cup (packed) brown sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup molasses

Combine and mix first 5 ingredients in bowl; reserve. Beat shortening or butter until creamy. Add brown sugar gradually; beat well after each addition. Add egg and molasses; beat until smooth. Blend in dry ingredients; mix well. Chill dough 1-2 hours. Shape dough into balls using a level tablespoon of dough for each. Place balls 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 325 degrees until done, 15-18 minutes. Transfer to a wire baking rack to cool. Yields about 3 1/2 dozen cookies. Submitted by Judith Villare from "Best Recipes From the backs of Boxes, Bottles, Cans and Jars."

These molasses raisin cookies are soft when eaten right from the oven, but later crisp up and are good for dunking in milk.

MOLASSES RAISIN COOKIES

3/4 cup shortening

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup molasses

2 eggs

21/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In a large mixing bowl, cream shortening and brown sugar. Beat in molasses. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the flour, baking soda, spices and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Stir in raisins and nuts.

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: about 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

-- Submitted by Judith Villare from "Taste of Home Ultimate Cookie Collection"

SOUTHERN SPICY GINGERBREAD

2 eggs

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup dark molasses

3/4 cup Crisco

2- 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup boiling water

2 teaspoons soda

2 teaspoons ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon Calumet baking powder

Add beaten eggs to sugar, molasses and melted Crisco and stir good. Add dry ingredients which have been mixed and sifted; and then add the boiling water. Bake in small individual pans or one big shallow pan (make sure you grease them) in a moderate oven 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. Serve with lemon sauce.

BASIC LEMON SAUCE

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 cup water

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind

3 tablespoons of lemon juice

1 pinch of salt

Combine sugar, cornstarch and water in a pot and cook on high fire until thick. Remove and add the rest of the ingredients. Return it to the fire until it is thick again, about 2 or 3 minutes. Use it while it is hot.

-- Submitted by Judith Villare from "White Trash Cooking"

Still looking

Please send in your best shrimp salad recipes.

Andrea Yeager, who can be reached at ayeager51@cableone.net, takes contributions or requests at Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567. If requesting a recipe, include the name or describe it.

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