Putting some jazz into this years brown bag lunch!

Is it that time ALREADY? School supplies are on sale, backpacks are being packed, new school clothes being purchased…….and just around the corner,  lunches will need to be packed! I spent the morning surfing the web and  browsing recipes for some fun and simple lunch idea to jazz up the classic brown bag situation.

One of the most helpful articles and suggestions I came across was via U.S. News.com

The introduction paragraph really caught my attention because,”According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a nonprofit group that promotes preventive medicine, children who buy lunch at school are more likely than kids who bring their lunch from home to be overweight and obese and less likely to eat fruits and vegetables. While the Healthy School Meals Act passed earlier this year will attempt to improve adolescent eating patterns by setting new nutrition standards for all food served in schools—from lunchrooms to vending machines—the only way to guarantee that your child’s lunch is nutritious and well balanced is to pack it yourself.”

This makes sense to me. The article goes on to offer some helpful and practical ideas for packing the ole’ brown bag.

Thankfully, creating a healthy midday meal doesn’t have to be time-consuming. The key is creativity, says Sherrie Le Masurier, a lifestyle columnist who runs School Lunch Ideas, a trove of healthy recipes that can be quickly prepared. “A lot of kids get bored with sandwiches,” she says. “But take the same ingredients and package them in a different way, and it becomes a lunch your child gets excited to eat.” Your kid might stick her tongue out at a ham and cheese sandwich, in other words, but gobble up ham and cheese shish kebabs—chunks of skewered whole-grain bread, ham, cheddar cheese, and a few cherry tomatoes.

To get your creative juices flowing, Le Masurier and Ansel offer U.S. News a buffet of quick and nutritious options they rely on:

Peanut butter on banana bread. Banana bread is usually an indulgence, but sliced thin and spread with peanut butter and banana medallions, it’s a wholesome treat. “Kids have more of a budget for calories than adults do,” says Ansel. “As long as there are other healthy ingredients and it’s not junk food all around, it’s really O.K.” Balance it out with a container of low-fat (1 percent) milk.

Greek-yogurt sundae. Greek yogurt has less sugar and twice the protein as the regular counterpart, plus a thick and creamy texture that makes it taste like dessert. Separate containers of strawberries, walnuts, or almonds (sunflower seeds if your school is nut-free), and a tablespoon of chocolate sauce make for tasty toppings a kid can add himself.

Veggies and hummus. For a portable meal that’s quick to eat when lunch has to be consumed on the fly, try a container of hummus topped with crumbled feta cheese. Add whole wheat pita chips, carrots, sliced cucumbers, or peppers that kids can dip or eat on the side.

Cheese quesadilla. Many school cafeterias make a microwave oven available. Place a couple of slices of cheese and leftover chicken on a whole wheat tortilla. Nuke for 20 seconds. Add a side of salsa for dipping.

PLT. Instead of a BLT, a PLT—prosciutto, lettuce, and tomato on whole-wheat toast—is faster and leaner. Round it out with a pear or apple.

Pizza pita. Tuck tomato and mozzarella slices into a pita pocket—add chopped basil leaves if your child is adventurous. Include a container of tomato sauce. Plop on a cafeteria plate, stick in the microwave.

Turkey sandwich with a twist. Bread manufacturers have recently introduced prepackaged rolls of whole-wheat ciabatta bread, which, along with pitas, tortillas, and flatbreads, can spark up the standard turkey sandwich. In Ansel’s remake, a chunk of brie (or any spreadable cheese) plus a spoonful of pesto is a healthier stand-in for mayo. She advises using no more than 2 ounces of deli meat to keep sodium levels in check.

Vegetable spirals. For veggie-phobic kids, this recipe is a smart and sneaky way to get yours to eat their greens. Spread cream cheese on a soft whole wheat tortilla and sprinkle with diced or grated raw carrots, spinach, and other vegetables and roll up. To vary the overall taste, substitute agarden vegetable– or tomato basil-flavored tortilla. Le Masurier takes the concept a step further by slicing the rolled-up wrap into bite-sized spirals.