It’s been a long time since I made school lunches, but I’m sure I never thought about sending my kids off to school with “healthy” foods.

I prepared food they liked; the lunch bag or box returned home empty. I assumed the food was eaten (or traded with another kid’s goodies).

Today, we’re deluged with dietary advice promising good health if we eat certain foods.

In her book, “What to Eat,” award-winning professor Marian Nestle offers a superb definition of healthy eating: “Eat less, move more, eat lots of fruits and vegetables,” and, she adds, “go easy on the junk foods.” 

As for junk food or food with added sugars: If you buy less of these items, kids will eat less! Healthy snacks? Follow the super market rule – the most visible products sell best.  Display some fruit on your kitchen counter instead of burying everything in the refrigerator.

Here are some ideas for easy and healthy foods the kids will eat – and can help prepare.


Ruth Taber is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. She may be reached at taber.ruth@gmail.com


 

Crispy oven-roasted broccoli

Ingredients: Broccoli, Olive oil, Salt, pepper

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

 Cut florets from broccoli head into small, even pieces; smaller florets yield crispier broccoli in less time. Thin broccoli stem slices work well also. Make sure broccoli florets/stem slices are dry for a crispier finish.

Toss broccoli with about 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil – coating veggies well. 

Add salt, pepper to taste, place on oiled baking sheet/pan in a single layer.

Roast about 20 to 25 minutes. Check in 10 to 15 minutes and toss/stir broccoli. Repeat this.

Broccoli is ready to serve when tender and has crispy, charred bits at the tips and edges.

For the umami finish, sprinkle some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on the broccoli before serving.


 

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese crisps  

Ingredients: 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Optional: 1 ½ teaspoons sesame seeds, other favorite spices, herbs. Or, add 1 tablespoon of grated zucchini.

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

 Line baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat (silicone mat).

 Spoon tablespoons of grated cheese on baking sheets; flatten with back of spoon; space them about 1 to 2 inches apart. 

Bake for 7 to 9 minutes until they are golden brown. After removing pan from oven, let them cool completely  (5 or more minutes) before lifting them off the baking sheet. 


Egg Muffins 

Ingredients: 6 eggs, 2 to 4 ingredients (about ½ to 1 teaspoon of each), such as chopped mushrooms, spinach, bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, shredded zucchini, cheddar/mozzarella or other favorite cheese. (Recipe is for 6-cup non-stick muffin pan) Salt, pepper, other seasonings to taste

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

 Spray muffin pan with a bit of oil for easier removal.

 Whisk eggs in medium bowl.

Add salt/pepper to taste and other seasonings if desired. (I added zahtar/za’atar, a tasty Middle Eastern spice mixture. Other suggestions: oregano, cumin, minced fresh garlic, etc.)

 Pour whisked eggs into greased muffin cups – dividing as evenly as possible. 

 Place your choice of ingredients into each cup.

 Leave at least ¼ inch space from top. Bake in pre-heated oven 12-18 minutes, until tester comes out clean for each muffin.

 (The eggs expand while baking and fall like a soufflé after removing; normal!) Muffins should release easily or you may need a knife’s nudge to loosen edges.

Serve them with salsa, other veggies or your choice of sides.

 Note: You can also bake in toaster oven under the “convection oven” setting.

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