Recipe Swap: Kids Recipe challenge produces more great school lunch ideas

Parents stocking up on school supplies are always looking for new ideas for school lunches, too.

Kids usually have favourites, but as any parent knows, eventually get tired of the same-old, same-old. And since school lunchtime is more about socializing than eating, any “uncool” stuff won’t get touched.

With school just a couple of weeks away, I’d like to pass along some recipes from EatRight Ontario’s annual Kids Recipe Challenge. These tasty, easy recipes for breakfast, lunch and snacks were created by young people themselves so they’re guaranteed to be a hit.

Getting kids involved in their own food preparation not only encourages them to experiment, but have fun while coming up with lots of simple, yummy things to eat.

EatRight Ontario’s registered dietitians encourage parents to use these recipes to help their kids become active mealtime participants while increasing their knowledge about food and learning new skills.

“Our younger winners told us they like to measure, mix and assemble ingredients like artfully arranging the vegetables in salads or getting their hands dirty mixing meatballs,” said EatRight Ontario dietitian Honey Bloomberg.

“Our older chefs love to crack and whip eggs and get creative building sandwiches and wraps.”

Want more kid-friendly recipes from EatRight Ontario? Check them out online.

Breakfast Cups

This was a first-place winner in the 2013 Kids Recipe Challenge. Whether you are taking it on the go or decide to make this for a kid’s sleepover party, these are sure to be a big hit! Make them ahead so all you have to do is pop them into the microwave in the morning.

  • 4 sheets of phyllo pastry
  • 2 slices ham or turkey (about 3 oz/90 g), diced
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/3 c. shredded carrot
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tbsp. milk
  • 1/3 c.  shredded cheddar cheese

Place 1 sheet of phyllo pastry on work surface and spray with cooking spray. Top with another sheet of phyllo and repeat with cooking spray and remaining phyllo sheets. Cut into 12 squares and place each square into sprayed muffin tin. Sprinkle ham, pepper and carrot into each cup. In a bowl, whisk together eggs and milk and divide mixture evenly among cups. Sprinkle each with cheese. Bake in preheated 375 F oven for about 15 minutes or until golden, and knife inserted in centre comes out clean. These can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Tips: Substitute leftover chicken for another flavour option. Use your leftover phyllo to make cups like these for desserts or as a wrap for salmon to bake with and enjoy a slight crunch with dinner.

Nutrition information (per breakfast cup): Calories: 86 kcal, Protein: 6 g, Fat: 4 g, Carbohydrate: 6 g, Fibre: 0 g, Sodium: 172 mg

Preparation time: 20 minutes. Cook time: 15 minutes. Makes: 12.

Potato Patties

This recipe placed second in the Kids Recipe Challenge. These patties taste like mashed potatoes but with loads of extra flavour. The combination of potatoes and beans creates a great vegetarian lunch option that can be made ahead and then warmed up or enjoyed cold.

  • 5 Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 lb./454 g), peeled and cubed
  • 1 can (19 oz./540 ml) white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp. canola oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 c. baby arugula, chopped
  • 1/2 c. frozen peas, thawed
  • Pinch each salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Hot pepper sauce (optional)

In a large pot, bring potatoes to boil and cook for about 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and return to pot. Add white beans and using a potato masher, mash together. Meanwhile, in a small non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium heat and cook onion and garlic for about 3 minutes or until softened and turning golden. Stir into potato mixture with eggs and cheese until smooth. Add arugula, peas, salt and pepper; stir until evenly distributed. Using a 1/2 cup dry measure, scoop out mixture to form patties. Place on parchment paper or greased baking sheet and repeat with remaining mixture. Bake in preheated 350 F oven for about 35 minutes or until light golden and firm to the touch.

Nutrition information (per serving):  Calories: 245 kcal, Protein: 14 g, Fat: 7 g, Carbohydrate: 34 g, Fibre: 8 g, Sodium: 440 mg  (from the Parmesan cheese and canned beans)

Cook time: 55 minutes. Makes: 10 patties. Serving size: 2 patties.

Granola and Fruit Bites

This was another first-place winner in the Kids Recipe Challenge in the category for after-school snacks for Grades 4 to 6. These make-ahead snacks, are full of fibre but sweet too, and perfect for kids’ lunches or after school at home. Grown-ups will love them too.

  • 1/3 c. soy-based peanut butter substitute
  • 1/4 c. pure maple syrup
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 2-1/2 c. granola cereal
  • 1/4 c. each raisins and dried cranberries or other dried fruit

Spray a mini muffin tin with cooking spray; set aside. In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together peanut butter substitute and maple syrup until combined. Beat in egg whites and pumpkin pie spice until smooth and well combined. Stir in granola, raisins and dried cranberries until well combined. Divide mixture among prepared pan. Bake in preheated 250 F for about 45 minutes or until light golden and firm to the touch. Let cool completely on rack before removing from pan. You may need to run a small knife around the edge of each muffin tin to help remove them easily.

Nutrition information per serving (2 bites):  Calories: 185 kcal, Protein: 5 g, Fat: 8 g, Carbohydrate: 24 g, Fibre: 3 g, Sodium: 46 mg

Preparation time: 10 minutes. Cook time: 45 minutes. Makes: 24 mini bites. Serving size: 2 bites.

Recipe source: (c) 2013 Dietitians of Canada. All rights reserved. Recipes used with permission from EatRight Ontario.

About the author

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Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.

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