By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietician
School is right around the corner and if you ask any kid, “What’s your favorite about school?” The most likely answer is recess with a close second as lunch. Paul’s school lunch memory features Aunt Fern behind the counter offering extra helpings of sandwiches and other main dish entrees. On the other hand, hamburger gravy was my worst nightmare in the Plain City Elementary cafeteria.
The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a federally assisted meal program operating in public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions. It provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or no-cost lunches to children each school day. The NSLP was established under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, signed into law by President Harry Truman in 1946.
USDA Food and Nutrition Services states in 2018 schools served over 4.8 billion lunches to children nationwide. Daily requirements include: 1 cup milk 1% or less fat; 1 to 2 ounces grains, half being whole grains; 1 to 2 ounces meat or meat alternative; ¾ to 1 cup veggies; and ½ to 1 cup fruit. The requirements gradually reduce sodium to less than 640 to 740mg/day in the next 10 years.
In 2013 flavored milk was eliminated from the school lunch program in an effort to reduce added sugars. Dairy industry people believe that the consumption of milk went down 1.1 million half-pints within the first 2 years. The School Milk Nutrition act of 2017 tried to help reverse this decline in consumption by marketing new attractive milk containers, improved tedious paperwork and allowed increased varieties of milk for the kids.
Menus and online payment have made it easier for kids and parents to pick and choose what days they will eat school lunch. Of course, there are always some days that don’t meet with kid’s approval. My kids were required to make their own lunches on days of unapproved school lunch days. More than likely it consisted of either leftovers or PBJ sandwiches, baby carrots and a piece of fruit. Much more creative lunch ideas can be found on Pinterest and other mom websites today. Ideas may include twists on wraps, pitas and muffins as well as lots of things to dip. Kids love to dip! Going rogue on your lunch to work and school try using the chart below and making homemade Lunchables. These are especially perfect for kids who are grazers.
This year as school is about to start, think outside the box for packed lunches. These are also great ideas for the peeps who head to work outside the home. The sky is the limit! Enjoy your lunch.
Eat well and healthy!
DIY Lunchables-Start with a divided containers or reuseale silicone muffin cups. Fill with nuggets of healthy goodness. *adapted from dontwastethecrumbs.com
|Starch (choose 1)||Protein (choose 2)|
Mini-pitas or Pitas cut in triangles
Cheese Shredded, sliced, chunks
|Fruit/Veggie (choose 2)||Dips (choose 1 or 2)|
Carrot sticks or baby carrots
Lemon Roasted Chicken Salad Wrap foodnetwork.com
One 6-pound whole fryer chicken or 4 large chicken breast
Olive oil, for drizzling
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
5 cloves garlic, smashed
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1 lemon, cut in quarters
3/4 cup 2-percent Greek Yogurt
1/4 cup mayo
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped
2 celery ribs, diced
1 small red onion, minced
2 lemons, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
One 6-ounce can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Four 12-inch whole wheat tortillas
1 pint broccoli sprouts
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
For the chicken: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and adjust a rack to the middle position. Place the chicken on a baking sheet lined with a wire rack, or in a roasting pan with a rack, and drizzle the chicken with olive oil. Generously sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Pack the cavity with the garlic, thyme and lemons. Place the chicken breast-side down on the rack. Roast the chicken for the first hour at 400 degrees F, and then turn up the heat to 450 degrees F and roast until the breast temperature registers 160 degrees F and the skin is a golden brown, for the last 30 to 45 minutes. Then set the chicken aside to rest and cool. When easy to handle, remove the legs, wings and any dark meat, reserving to eat for your next meal or to snack on immediately. (Chicken breast should take about 1 hour) . Remove the skin from the breast meat. Using your hands, shred the breast meat and place in a bowl. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
For the salad: Mix together the yogurt, mayo, mustard, walnuts, cranberries, celery, onions, lemon zest and juice, tarragon and water chestnuts and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Fold in the shredded chicken.
For the sandwich build: Layer the whole wheat wraps with some broccoli sprouts and tomato slices and then top with the chicken salad. Wrap and enjoy!
Ham and Mac & Cheese Lunchbox Muffins ishouldbemoppingthefloor.com
2 cups prepared Mac and cheese, made
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup diced ham
1/4 cup bread crumbs + 2 tablespoons
Combine leftover macaroni and cheese with eggs, ham, and 1/4 cup bread crumbs. Stir until well combined.
Spray eight openings in a muffin tin with non-stick spray. Use an ice cream scoop to add 1/2 cup of mixture to each cup.
Gently press mixture down with your fingers to flatten it into each cup.
Sprinkle with additional bread crumbs.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes…depending on how soft or firm you prefer your muffins. Immediately remove from cups to cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate after 30 minutes of cooling.
PB&J Surprise Energy Bites thecreativebite.com
PB&J Surprise Energy Bites are a fun and healthy no bake snack with a peanut butter oat mixture and a surprise pop of strawberry jelly on the inside!
3/4 c. old fashion oats
⅓ c. almonds chopped
1 Tbsp. ground flaxseed optional
1/3 c. roughly chopped pitted dates
3 Tbsp. hemp seeds optional
½ c. nut butter peanut or almond are both good
1 Tbsp. honey
3 Tbsp. low sugar fruit preserves
On a small paper plate, spread the 3 Tablespoons of fruit preserves out 1/4″ thick. Cover with cling wrap and freeze for at least 2 hours. (The fruit preserves won’t become solid, but it will thicken the mixture)
In a food processor, add the almonds and dates. Pulse until the dates are chopped finely. Add the flaxseed, hemp seeds, nut butter and honey. Pulse until the mixture is smooth. Add the old fashion oats and pulse until the mixture is well combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of the food processor to ensure all of the ingredients are well incorporated. Pulse a few more times to ensure a smooth mixture.
Using a #40 cookie scoop (3/4 oz.), scoop up some of the oat mixture and using your thumb, press an indent into the scoop as far as you can. Fill the indent with a 1/2 teaspoon of frozen fruit preserves. Press the edges of the oat mixture over the jelly and release it from the scoop. In your hands gently roll it into a smooth circle.
Store in an airtight container refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for three months.