Are you in a deli meat lunch rut? If your daily turkey and cheese sandwich habit is getting boring, try having eggs for lunch! Typically a breakfast food, eggs are also an excellent idea for lunch. In May, eggs are a Foods of the Month. We will showcase two different ways to have eggs for lunch this month. First up is this Simple Egg Sandwich recipe. They key for having eggs at lunch? Hard boil them! When hard boiled, eggs feel more like a lunch food and make for a tasty and nutritious sandwich base.
What are the health benefits of eggs? To start, eggs are packed full of protein. One egg has 12% of the daily recommended amount of protein. They are a great way to add more protein to your diet, especially if you are a vegetarian. If you can, choose eggs with added omega 3 fatty acids. You can easily find these eggs at the supermarket, just look for “omega 3” on the label. Omega 3 eggs taste just like regular eggs. The only difference is that the hens who laid these eggs have been given a diet with flaxseeds. The omega 3’s in the flaxseeds are then transferred to the egg yolk, so when we eat them we can get the health benefits.
When making this Simple Egg Sandwich recipe, consider hard boiling up a batch of eggs in advance, since that is the most time consuming part of this recipe. You can store hard boiled eggs in the refrigerator and simply peel off the shell and slice them when you are ready to assemble your sandwich.
Who doesn’t love the combination of pasta and cheese? Think of this recipe like a grown up, healthier version of macaroni and cheese for adults. Our recipe for Cheesy Pasta with Spinach and Chicken loads up on vegetables. This means it provides healthy vitamins and minerals too especially from the spinach (a May Foods of the Month).
In this recipe, we use ricotta cheese, mozzarella, and a little bit of parmesan. Be sure to use reduced-fat ricotta and mozzarella. To balance out the cheesiness, we add a whole onion, as well as a whole package of spinach, plus three chicken breasts. This means that a serving of this Cheesy Pasta with Spinach and Chicken is a complete meal. We know that the reduced-fat cheeses provide important calcium to keep bones healthy. The chicken is full of protein. The onion and spinach are important vegetables that provide lots of Vitamin C and Vitamin A. Spinach is also responsible for a healthy serving of iron and fiber. And, let’s not forget that the whole grain pasta is full of fiber too!
If you love the flavor combination of spinach and ricotta, this recipe is right up your alley. The caramelized onion gives it a smoky flavor as well. We think it’s the perfect blending of flavors that everyone will enjoy!
1 5 oz. package fresh spinach (organic if possible)
1 yellow onion, sliced thin
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 chicken breasts, chopped into small pieces
1 15 oz. package part-skim ricotta cheese
1 8 oz. package part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the pasta according to directions.
Once the pasta has finished cooking, drain. Add the fresh spinach leaves to the bottom of the pasta pot, then add the hot pasta over the spinach and cover. The heat from the pasta will allow the spinach to wilt while you cook the rest of the ingredients.
Use a nonstick skillet on medium heat to cook the onion in the olive oil for about 10 minutes, until it begins to brown. Remove onion from skillet and place in a large mixing bowl.
Cook the chicken in the same skillet that you used for the onion for about 10 minutes, until no pink remains. Remove from heat and let cool.
Add the ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheese to the bowl with the caramelized onions. Mix together until all ingredients are combined.
Add the cheese and onion mixture to the pasta and spinach. Mix well to combine. Add the chicken and mix again.
We love the versatility of nuts! There are so many different ways to cook with nuts, especially if you are a vegetarian or vegan, nuts are an excellent way to get protein into your diet. Nuts can be added to salads instead of croutons, used as a breading for chicken instead of breadcrumbs… the possibilities are endless. We love this recipe for Energy Nut Balls because they are a fun way to snack with nuts.
Nuts are an April Foods of the Month. Nuts include things like peanuts, cashews, walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, and pistachios. This Energy Nut Balls recipe uses peanuts, but you can get creative and add others if you wish. However, remember that when cooking with or eating nuts, moderation is key. Because they are high in fat, enjoy nuts as a treat vs. a regular snack. One serving size of nuts its usually about 1/4 of a cup. Expect to find about 180 calories and 15 grams of (good!) fat in this same serving. The great news is that the fat in nuts is the healthy, heart friendly kind (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat).
For this Energy Nut Balls recipe, keep this serving size suggestion in mind. Limit yourself to one of these energy balls per day to keep you feeling full while also providing your body with good nutrition.
Fava beans are a type of fresh bean, which is an April Foods of the Month. Fava beans are also one incredibly healthy food! Most times, people bypass them at the grocery store because they don’t know how to use them. In Italy, this Fava Bean Pasta recipe is a popular lunch option since it is simple and easy to make. And, anytime you mix vegetables with noodles and cheese, you get a kid-friendly dish!
Fava beans are close relatives of legumes like black beans and split peas. Unlike other dried beans and peas, you will most likely find fava beans in the frozen vegetable section of the grocery store, along with green beans, lima beans and edamame. To prepare them, simply boil on the stovetop, like you would with green beans (another type of fresh bean).
This Fava Bean Pasta dish is a nutritious lunch or light dinner option. Fava beans are full of folate, which is an important nutrient to keep the cells in our body working. Fava beans are also a good source of fiber, iron and manganese. We recommend serving this Fava Bean Pasta dish with a nice serving of freshly grated cheese for some added calcium. Enjoy!
Not all nachos are cheesy, greasy, and full of junk. Try making nachos with apple slices instead to get a serving of fruit, fiber and natural sugar. The result are these Nutty Apple Nachos. They are a perfect party dessert that is healthy too!
These Nutty Apple Nachos are the perfect combination of nutritious and indulgent. We chose walnuts to crumble on top of our nachos base because they are high in magnesium, protein and good fats. Walnuts also help to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. Next, we add all natural peanut butter for more protein, and a drizzle of melted dark chocolate so the nachos feel a little more like dessert. Look for dark chocolate that is 70% or more cacao. A higher cacao concentration means more fiber, iron, potassium and zinc. Who knew that a little bit of chocolate could be good for the body?
Try these Nutty Apple Nachos and you will not be disappointed. They are the perfect combination of sweet and salty. They are also full of nutrition!
Have you ever eaten hummus? Hummus is a traditional dish from the Middle East/North Africa that is made with chickpeas. It’s the perfect creamy dip for crackers and vegetables. In fact, over 15 million Americans say that they eat hummus, so you are in good company if you have tried hummus before. If not, you can definitely find this tasty snack in your local grocery store and in restaurants. Hummus can be purchased in those places, but it can also be made at home. We love this recipe for Homemade Edamame Hummus.
If you’ve had hummus on your radar for quite some time, you’ve probably begun to see all the different variations at your grocery store. There’s hummus made with black beans, white beans, and… edamame! Edamame is a type of fresh bean that is also an April Foods of the Month. It’s also a perfect base for this Homemade Edamame Hummus recipe.
Boil the edamame in water for 4 to 5 minutes, or microwave in a microwave safe dish for 2 to 3 minutes.
In a food processor, blend together the edamame, tahini/peanut butter, water, lemon zest and juice, garlic, salt, and cumin until smooth. Drizzle in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and mix until combined.
Transfer to a small bowl, stir in the parsley and drizzle with remaining oil and garnish with extra parsley and full edamame beans.
Serve with carrots, celery, cucumbers, olive and crackers.
This quick and easy Chickpea Celery Dip recipe is a delicious plant-based snack. Enjoy this dip, which only takes a few minutes to eat, after school or after lunch. Usually, we think of celery as something that you use for dipping, but in this recipe, the celery is in the dip! Celery is also a stem vegetable, which is a March Foods of the Month.
We love that this Chickpea Celery Dip recipe is full of nutritious ingredients like chickpeas, celery, herbs and Greek yogurt. Chickpeas are packed with fiber, protein, and other important nutrients like magnesium, and iron. Celery is naturally very low in calories and provides some fiber too. Impress your friends with this dip recipes. It’s a fun way to put a stem vegetable in a dip. Serve with whole grain crackers, pretzels or pita chips.
Baked Parmesan Asparagus with Breadcrumbs: A nutritious side dish…
Asparagus is a type of stem vegetable, which is a Foods of the Month in March. Stem vegetables are vegetables that are the stem of a plant, rather than the root or the leaves. Other stem vegetables include celery, rhubarb and fennel. Asparagus can be eaten in a variety of ways, but we love this recipe for Baked Parmesan Asparagus with Breadcrumbs. The cheese and the whole wheat breadcrumbs make it extra tasty!
Stem vegetables like asparagus are perfect for springtime meals, since this is when they are in season. Take advantage of asparagus in these months by making this recipe. By itself, asparagus is a healthy choice. One cup of cooked asparagus has only 27 calories, and provides a good source of iron, Vitamin A and fiber. It’s also a naturally fat free food (like most vegetables), so you can feel good about eating this Baked Parmesan Asparagus with Breadcrumbs recipe. Add some good fats from the extra virgin olive oil and some whole grains from the breadcrumbs and we give asparagus even more of a nutritional boost! We suggest serving this dish with fish, another March Foods of the Month, or chicken for a healthy and complete dinner.
According to the parent website www.pbs.org/parents/food-and-fitness sponsored by the Public Broadcasting System, as well as various other on-line resources, there are some simple guidelines for parents to follow to encourage their kids to eat healthy foods:
1.Get them involved.
Don’t just take your kids along with you to the grocery store; actively involve them on the front end in meal planning. Let them help plan a menu and choose a recipe to follow so that they are participants in the meal preparation process. Have them take inventory of what is in your pantry or refrigerator so they know what ingredients are already on hand – then let them make a shopping list. If they are too young for that, let them help you decide what cheese or fruit to buy or help you make a simple, no-cook recipe like a fruit parfait with yogurt for a healthy dessert. Kids, like adults, like choices!
2.Go to the source.
Don’t limit your grocery shopping to the local supermarket. Take your family to a farmer’s market or to visit a dairy farm. Pick berries together during the summer for a homemade dessert your child can serve to his or her friends on a Saturday play date.Plant a garden – tomatoes and cucumbers are “no fail” choices your child can plant and watch grow. Teaching kids where their food comes from helps make them more environmentally aware as well.
3.Make healthy snacks available.
Your children will eat what you provide for them. If you buy healthy snacks rather than those with unhealthy fat and a high-sugar content, that is what they will learn to like.Putting those nutritious snacks on shelves where they can easily access them and keeping healthy choices available for trips in the car are also strategies that make healthy eating easier. Good choices are peanut butter, low-sugar applesauce, any kind of fresh or dried fruit, sliced vegetables, whole grain crackers, nuts and bottled water. And don’t forget the importance of drinking lots of liquids. Your child doesn’t have to just eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, he can also drink them. Smoothies and mixed fruit drinks can be a fun way to introduce new fruits and serve as a healthy snack between meals.
4.Don’t give up when introducing new foods.
Studies show that most children may need between 5 and 10 exposures to a new food before being willing to try it. If you plan family-friendly meals and let your child pick and choose from what is on the table, your chances for success will improve. Try to include a variety of options – some foods your child really likes as well as some new foods to try. Remember to be a role model for your child and sample some of everything and your child will learn to do so as well. And, remember – don’t give up the first time your child rejects something!
5.Be a role model and teach healthy eating habits early
Studies have shown that children’s food tastes are highly correlated with foods that their mothers liked or disliked. If you order a healthy salad and drink water, even if it is at a fast food restaurant, your child is more likely to do the same. In a health study published in 2004 by Oxford Academic, researchers found that “a positive parental role model may be a better method for improving a child’s diet than attempts at dietary control.” In other words, rather than telling your child “no” relative to his or her food choices, model positive food choices yourself.
Use meal and snack times as teachable moments to help even the youngest children make wise food choices. Remember that as a parent, you are the #1 teacher of your child.Much of what you teach them is transmitted through your actions more than your words. The choices we make for ourselves as adults, and what we model for our children, create lasting impressions that stay with your child way into their own adulthood. Stressing the importance of healthy eating habits for your family and for yourself encourages lifelong patterns from which both you and your children will benefit!
For those of you who are in a time crunch when it’s dinnertime, we have the perfect recipe for you! This Easy Baked Salmon and Veggies recipe only takes about 5 minutes to prepare, and bakes in the oven for another 25 minutes. It’s a wholesome meal that you can have on the table in exactly 30 minutes.
This dish is totally packed with nutrition too. The salmon is full of omega 3 fatty acids which help brain development and keep your skin healthy. Pick two types of vegetables – we chose broccoli and cherry tomatoes but you can use whatever you have on hand. The vegetables ensure that you are getting a healthy dose of Vitamins and minerals to keep your bodies running smoothly. Also, don’t forget the serving of protein that comes along with the salmon. It’s really a filling and delicious meal!
For those of you who want to add a bit more bulk to this meal, know that you can serve it over pasta or whole grain brown rice as well. Simply prepare the pasta or rice while the the salmon and vegetables bake in the oven. It will make the protein and vegetables last a bit longer and will help you feel fuller longer by adding more fiber to this perfect meal.