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Your kids will love these delicious and nutritious nibbles for after school snacks.

Bring the whole family together to make this fun taco dinner.

Kids won't want to trade these nifty grab bag lunches.

 

chefs at home

Mommy and Daddy Chefs

In the quest for nutritious and tasty lunches, many on-the-go parents—no matter how good their intentions—come up short on ideas. Sure, there are always the old stand-bys like PB&J or turkey and cheese, with an apple and baby carrots thrown in for good measure, but where's the creativity; where's the fun? We turned to three of FoodFit's favorite chefs for help in the brown bag department. These chefs are all well known for their contributions to the culinary world, but we think they have an even more important distinction—they're parents. As parents, and the chef in the household, they're tasked to deliver delicious meals to their children and they've been kind enough to share those ideas with us.

Jody Adams  

Jody Adams is an award-winning chef who established her reputation in the early 1990s for carefully researched regional menus that combine New England ingredients with Italian culinary traditions. She is now chef and co-owner of two celebrated Boston restaurants, Rialto and Red Clay. In addition to being a talented chef, Adams is the mother of two active kids, ages six and 12, who keep her on her toes at home and in the kitchen.

Nora Pouillon  

Nora Pouillon is a well-known chef/restaurateur and a pioneer in the organic food movement. Her namesake establishment, Restaurant Nora, is the first restaurant in North America to become certified organic. This busy mom still makes time to ensure that her daughters, ages 15 and 12, have healthy lunches to take to school.

Allen Susser  

Allen Susser is a critically acclaimed chef in Aventura, FL and father of two daughters, ages six and 11. Allen's daughters love cooking with him at home and at his restaurant, Chef Allen's, which celebrates the flavors of the Caribbean, Latin America and Europe.

 
FoodFit   How can you make a kid's lunch fun, yet healthy and balanced?

ADAMS:

 
  • Let them help make the lunch.
  • Serve sandwiches in a variety of ways—roll-ups, pita pockets, focaccia, bagels.
  • Cut up fruit like melon, pineapple, strawberries, grapes and put them on skewers so they're more fun to eat.
  • If they like it at dinner, put it in their lunch. I add sesame greens, corn salad, broccoli, coleslaw, soup, pasta—whatever they like.
  • Instead of cookies or chips, add a bag of trail mix to your kid's lunch.
  • Include a message from you, a note or a joke so they know you're thinking about them all day.

POUILLON:

 

For my daughters, I like to buy little insulated lunch boxes; they're soft and easy to carry. I'll put dry ice packets in the boxes to make sure that their lunches remain cold. For lunch, I usually pack them leftovers from dinner the night before or leftovers from the restaurant. I'll pack them things like chicken and rice and add cut cucumbers or tomatoes. In another small container I'll pack raisins, cookies, or fresh fruit like small apples or cut-up peaches. I generally like to cut softer fruits because it prevents them from getting mushy or bruised and it's easier this way for children to eat.
 

SUSSER:

 

Involve children in the planning of their school lunches each week. Give them choices and ask them what fruits and vegetables will play a role in their lunches that week. It is possible to incorporate healthy "chips" or pretzels—just let them choose two days of the week to have them. Involving kids in the decision-making process will help them to appreciate what they're eating more. You can make lunch items like sandwiches, fruits and raw vegetables fun and appealing with creative types of cuts (diagonal, zigzag, etc.). Fun dips for vegetables are always good too; kids can even make these dips. Let them help you choose lunch recipes sometimes as well. Any sort of inclusion will make them more likely to want to eat their lunch and keep it healthy.
 

FoodFit   What healthy after-school snacks do you make for your kids?

ADAMS:

 
  • Yogurt based dips with vegetables or fruit
  • Pinwheel sandwiches using a whole-wheat flat bread.
  • Homemade frozen pops with fresh fruit juices.

POUILLON:

 

I usually have salads with lettuce and cut-up vegetables like carrots and cucumbers ready for my daughters. This is a great snack because it can get kids involved in the cooking/eating process. Allow kids to choose or make their own dressings to go with the salad or even with just plain, cut vegetables. A piece of cheddar cheese melted on whole-grain toast is also a great, timesaving snack. For my own children, I generally just bring home breads from the restaurant: whole-grain, rye, sourdough, etc.—all made with organic flour. Finally, hard-boiled eggs, chopped and mixed with tomatoes are also a nutritious, tasty snack.
 

SUSSER:

 

Fun trail mixes always seem to be a hit. Mix together healthy cereals and granola with dried fruit and raisins.
 

FoodFit   How about some healthy breakfast ideas for kids on the run?

SUSSER:

 

Yogurt and fruit are always good, easy choices for breakfast. Smaller apples are easier to hold and eat and clementines, which have no seeds and are easy to peel, are also good choices. Parents should try to stay away from processed, sugared cereals. More fibrous, whole grain cereals, like raisin bran are better options.
 

Your kids will love these delicious, chef-inspired recipes:
Soft-Boiled Eggs and Toy Soldiers
Pasta with Heirloom Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella, Basil and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Toasted-Rolled Veggie Quesadillas
Peek-a-Boo Peanut Noodle Salad
Jody Adams' Fruit Kebabs

 

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