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August 24, 2015

5 back-to-school lunches that will keep kids happy and healthy

School lunches with an attitude

Lunches Kids
Sushi Tom D'Intino/PhillyVoice


With school around the corner, here are some delicious and healthy lunch ideas with an attitude. Good luck.

Sushi Style Tortilla Rolls

Far East meets Southwest in your lunchbox. Better pack a juice cup!


1 large tortilla shell

1 cooked, 8-ounce chicken breast, sliced

1 very ripe avocado

½ red tomato, julienne

½ purple cabbage, shredded (or lettuce)

½ yellow pepper, julienne

2 ounces plain sour cream or yogurt

1 teaspoon honey

1 pair chopsticks (optional)

(Tom D'Intino/PhillyVoice)

Split the avocado in half and remove the seed. Remove the avocado from its shell and place it in a bowl. Smash the avocado into a paste with a fork. Put the paste on a tortilla shell, leaving a 1-inch gap at the top. Place the chicken, tomatoes, cabbage and pepper in a pile on the bottom third of the tortilla. Fold the bottom of the tortilla over the pile, but do not fold the sides in like a traditional tortilla. Roll tightly until the avocado puree is covered. Spread the honey on the remaining "clean" area and then finish rolling. The honey will keep your roll together and add flavor.

Press into each open side to firm filling. Using a serrated bread knife or very sharp sushi knife, slice the roll in half. Wipe the knife clean after each cut to avoid tearing. Slice each piece in half and repeat one more time, cutting them into eight pieces. Lay the pieces colorful side up. Use the sour cream or yogurt as a dipping sauce in a soufflé cup.

Tropical Pasta Salad

Carb load for recess while getting vitamins and antioxidants all in one shot!


1 cup cooked bowtie pasta (use quinoa as a gluten-free alternative)

¼ cup small diced pineapple (save shell to use as bowl)

2 tablespoons finely diced red onion

2 tablespoons shredded carrots

2 tablespoons diced tomato

2 tablespoons diced roasted red pepper

1 teaspoon chopped cilantro

1 pinch of dried parsley

1 teaspoon lime juice

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon shredded coconut (optional)

Pinch of salt and pepper

1 to 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

Pasta bowl
(Tom D'Intino/PhillyVoice)

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl except the oil. Slowly add oil until lightly coated. Use the bottom third of the pineapple shell as a bowl. You can use cling wrap and a rubber band for a makeshift lid.

Chicken Waldorf Jr. in a Crunchy Lettuce Wrap

Kid-friendly version of a classic with a twist.


1 cup cooked, diced chicken

¼ cup sliced red and green grapes

¼ cup small diced red apples (set in lemon water to avoid browning prior to use)

2 tablespoons finely diced celery

Pinch of salt and pepper

1 teaspoon lemon juice

3 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise or mayo substitute

4 leaves of romaine lettuce

Lettuce wrap
(Tom D'Intino/PhillyVoice)

Combine the mayo, lemon juice, salt and pepper in one bowl. Mix the remaining ingredients except the lettuce in another bowl. Slowly incorporate the mayo into the chicken bowl until it is coated just enough to bind all of the ingredients. You may have a small amount of the mayo mixture left. Fill two of the romaine leaves with the mixture. Place the two remaining leaves on top and slide the edges under the filling so it creates a tight pouch.

Super Simple Hummus with a Flower Crudité

Only in a perfect world is there a great source of protein that also entices kids to eat their veggies, plus a five-minute recipe to make it happen. Oh wait, there is!


1 cup of canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

2 pinches of garlic powder

2 pinches of salt

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons water

1 stalk celery cut into ½-inch-by-3-inch sticks

5 mini carrots, cooked

6 slices of cucumber

Treat Two
(Tom D'Intino/PhillyVoice)

Rinse the chickpeas in a strainer and shake them dry. Combine them with the garlic powder, salt, lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of water in a food processor or blender. Puree and slowly add additional water until mixture is smooth, yet firm. Transfer the hummus to a school container. Do not fill it all the way; leave space for veggies. Use cut vegetables to design a flower or whatever dino-princess-superhero-mouse kids are into this week. Ideally, vegetables are the first choice as dippers, but there are plenty of healthy chip options available. If you have the time and want a more traditional recipe, check this out.

Banana Nice Cream

Here's a gluten- and dairy-free frozen treat so good, kids won’t notice it’s healthy.


3 very ripe bananas

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 large leaf of mint, finely diced

¼ cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring (extract or imitation)

Treat One
(Tom D'Intino/PhillyVoice)

This is a great way to use the brown soft bananas going to waste on your counter. Peel the bananas and break them into thirds. Place them on a plate in the freezer until they're frozen. Put frozen bananas, cinnamon, mint, vanilla and half the water into a food processor or blender. Begin to puree, slowly adding the remaining water, until you have reached the consistency of soft-serve ice cream. If you're using a blender, you may have to stop a few times and scrape down the sides to get all of the ingredients smooth.

Transfer the mix into serving-size containers. Dress with your favorite fruits or toppings prior to packing. This recipe will hold frozen for three days before losing its texture. If that happens, turn it into a banana smoothie.