Thursday, February 20, 2020

With summer vacation behind us and the kids back in school, I’m back in the kitchen bright and early, preparing and packing snacks and lunches. Sure, I could just fake it and send them frozen pizza, but I look at this as an opportunity to provide my kids—and myself—with some good nutrition to help them focus and succeed. I also make sure to add a little love note, my way of sending them a long-distance hug.

For a morning snack that will fill them with long-lasting energy, try fruit-cheese kabobs. Take a wooden skewer, or even a toothpick for a mini version, and spear fruit (cubes of green apple, melon, nectarine or any other firm fruit; whole grapes; or blueberries) alternately with cubes of hard cheese. This doesn’t take long, looks amazing, and is sure to be appealing.

I love to diversify my daily sandwiches with roll-ups and wraps; they’re a fun and simple finger food that kids love and are a snap for me to prepare. No less important, when made with the right fillings, they keep their shape and texture even after several hours.

Start with a wheat tortilla, preferably whole grain, and then choose a flavorful spread. A family favorite is Tnuva’s Cheese Spread, either with garlic and dill or olives. For me, I’ll opt for the lower fat but very creamy Labaneh topped with thinly sliced cucumber and a touch of spring onion. Another winning combo is one of the Farmer’s Market savory spreads—olive tapenade, dried tomato or spicy harissa—topped with a yummy Tnuva cheese slice of Edam or Muenster cheese. After that, simply roll up. You can either wrap as is with sandwich wrap, or better yet, slice, then place each piece into a small container, face-side-up, like “sushi.”

These tortilla roll-ups work equally well with sliced deli meat instead of the cheese.

Another great idea for a quick, nutritious lunch food is Mom’s Chicken chicken breast patties that come in fun-to-eat shapes. I’ve cajoled many a picky eater with Chicken Breast Jungle and Chicken Breast Stars, alongside crisp strips of red and yellow peppers, cherry tomatoes and baby cucumbers. For myself, there’s nothing more appetizing than the Mom’s Chicken Grilled Chicken Fillet in a pita with spicy harissa sauce and some grilled veggies.

Kids (and adults) who are toting food for a long day will certainly appreciate a sweet pick-me-up at some point in the afternoon. What can be nicer than a piece of home-baked pastry? When I don’t have time for any major productions, I take out my “secret weapon”—Ma’adanot frozen rolled short dough filled with delicious De La Créme spreads. The spreads comes in four yummy flavors: Cookies & Caramel, Halva, Halva & Carobs and Hazelnut with Cocoa. Just thaw out the dough, and fill with the De la Créme. Bake either as a long roll cake, or slice for individual cookies. De La créme also works as a tasty spread on toast or crackers.

I hope these ideas will inspire you to invent your own original lunchbox creations, and to give your kids the best possible start for the new school year!