If your kids, like mine, are not fans of sandwiches, or they’d just like some variety in between the sandwiches, here are some great healthy “Bento box” ideas to put into your lunch rotation! What is Bento? Bento is of Japanese origin, and at restaurants often means “a little bit of everything.” Bento has evolved from rice or noodles and fish or meat to become a creatively packed, often healthy, balanced lunch in a tray with portioned compartments. Additional ideas include chicken quesadillas, breakfast for lunch (think oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, and a boiled egg), and hummus with chips or mini-naan flatbreads and veggies.
Harvest Chicken Salad
2 cups cooked Chicken (a great use of leftover rotisserie)
½ cup plain full-fat Greek Yogurt
1 Tbsp. grain Mustard
1 tsp. Honey
1 tsp. fresh Parsley, chopped
½ tsp. Cumin
1 Apple, cored and chopped
¼ cup Pecans, chopped
2 Tbsp. Cranberries, dried and chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
1. In a medium bowl, mix together the yogurt, mustard, honey, parsley, cumin, salt and pepper.
- Stir in the cooked chicken, apple, pecans and cranberries until well mixed.
Serve in the Bento box with crackers, cucumber slices, melon (cut out with a star cookie cutter if you’d like to make it extra fun) and sunflower seeds. Don’t forget to pack a spoon!
Spinach Pesto Pasta
½ cup shredded Chicken (optional)
1 cup cooked spiral Pasta (or other favorite shape)
2 cups Basil, de-stemmed
2 cloves Garlic
½ cup Parmesan Cheese
½ cup Olive Oil
5 Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half
2 Tbsp. Corn Kernels, cooked
4-5 small Mozzarella Medallions, sliced in half
Salt and Pepper
1. In a food processor or blender, pulse basil, lemon, garlic, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper a few times, then run at full speed while drizzling in the olive oil. Blend for 20-30 seconds until well incorporated. If you like, add ¼ cup of pine nuts or walnuts, and reduce cheese to ¼ cup before blending.
2. In a medium bowl, place cooked pasta, chicken (if desired), sliced tomatoes, corn and mozzarella. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the pesto sauce (more if you like lots of pesto), until all ingredients are well blended. Store the remaining pesto sauce in the fridge for 5 days or 3 months in the freezer. Serve in the Bento box with black olives, berries.
For the crust: 2 English Muffins, mini-naan Flatbreads, a Pita pocket or Flatbread,
½ cup Mozzarella Cheese (shredded),
2 Tbsp. Pizza Sauce, Marinara or Pasta Sauce,
Mushrooms, sliced (or their favorite toppings)
1. Toast your crust of choice for 5-7 minutes until crispy on the bottom.
2. Top with sauce and favorite toppings and broil on low until the cheese is melted. Serve in the Bento box with small salad with dressing, or baby carrots and sugar snap peas with ranch dipping sauce and applesauce.