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a tortilla spread with hummus and filled with chopped olives, chopped red bell pepper, feta cheese and spinach

Greek Veggie Wrap

Every day, millions of people pack lunches to take to work or send to school with their kids. Maybe you are one of them!

There are many benefits to packing lunch. When you pack your own lunch or prepare lunch for a child, you are able to control portion sizes, maximize nutrition and save money.

I pack my lunch almost every day of the work week, but sometimes I find myself in a “lunch rut”. Have you found yourself there, too? If you find yourself preparing the same sandwiches to take for lunch day after day, one simple way to change things up is to make wraps instead. For example, if you make lunchmeat sandwiches, try rolling lunchmeat and cheese in a whole grain tortilla, instead. No fancy tortillas are needed- I typically buy the store brand which come in a pack of 10 for less than $2. You can add lettuce for volume and your favorite condiments (mayonnaise, mustard, salad dressing, hummus, guacamole, etc.) for flavor.

If you’re someone who makes peanut butter and jelly on the regular, try spreading peanut butter on a whole grain tortilla and filling it with slices of fruit like bananas or apples.

Other tasty wraps that I have made include:

  • Italian Tuna salad – a tortilla filled with tuna, white beans, lettuce and Italian dressing
  • Tuna or Chicken salad – a tortilla filled with a mixture of tuna or chicken, plain nonfat yogurt, chopped celery and sliced apples or grapes, topped with lettuce
  • Chickpea “Chicken” salad – the above description using a can of chickpeas, run through the food processor, in place of chicken
  • Greek Vegetarian (pictured above) – a tortilla spread with hummus and filled with chopped olives, chopped red bell pepper, feta cheese and spinach (you could add chicken if you like)
  • Mexican Cabbage Salad – a tortilla filled with chopped cabbage and other chopped or shredded veggies (corn, tomatoes, radishes, peppers, carrots, etc.), pinto beans and a cilantro-lime dressing

If you’re in search of something you can mix up quickly, look for salad kits in the produce section of your grocery store. Kale and broccoli slaw or Southwest salad mix can serve as an easy “dump and mix” base for lunch wraps. You may consider adding a can of beans or sliced chicken to these mixes for added protein.

Which wrap ideas do you plan to try? Let us know by leaving a comment in the box below!

 

Author: Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

Reviewer: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Wood County, zies.1@osu.edu

 

Sources:

Hunter, J.G. & Cason, K.L. (2011). Packing Lunches for Work or School. Clemson Cooperative Extension. http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/food/nutrition/food_shop_prep/food_prep/hgic4246.html

UC Davis Health (2013). Packing the perfect school lunch. http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/welcome/features/2013-2014/08/20130828_school_lunch.html

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Having a sandwich for lunch is so common that we tend to get in a rut when it comes to our choices. Ham and cheese, turkey, and/or peanut butter and jelly are staples for a reason—they taste good!  One of my personal favorites is unsalted peanut butter with sliced banana and a drizzle of honey on sprouted grain bread.  Sometimes I even skip the bread and just put my sandwich fillings like turkey and cheese in a large lettuce leaf for a lower carbohydrate “Turkey Wrap”.

sandwich

A sandwich can be a quick, portable, nutritious meal if thought out properly. The first suggestion I would make, however, is to check the nutrition facts label of your usual breads and wraps. Grains are the foundation of a healthy sandwich, and as the foundation, they should provide your body with the appropriate nutrients. Some may be high calorie and/or not the nutrient powerhouses we expect them to be.

In honor of National Sandwich Day on November 3rd, spend a little time this month to “up your game” when it comes to improving your sandwich choices.  This can be accomplished by incorporating some of the following suggestions:

  1. To add crunch and nutrition, try sliced red pepper, onions, snow peas, lettuce, spinach, kale, sliced cucumbers, shredded carrots, dill pickles, kimchi, apple or other fruit slices
  2. Instead of high calorie spreads, try hummus, salsa, light mayo, flavored mustards or a small avocado smashed
  3. For the protein source, use water packed tuna or chicken, nut butters (almond, peanut, cashew), diced or sliced hard boiled eggs, or leftovers like fried eggs, burgers, meatloaf, sliced chicken breast, and beans (whole or mashed)
  4. And for holding it all together, think outside the box with low calorie wraps, corn tortillas, flatbreads, whole grain or sprouted grain breads, pita, naan or large lettuce leaves

Feeling bold? Try this Chick Pea Sandwich or Pesto Grilled Cheese. Feeding a crowd? Easy BBQ Pork will be a snap!

Did you know you can freeze sandwiches? This makes prep time even easier. Just grab and go in the morning and enjoy!

Sources:

http://food.unl.edu/#sandwich

http://www.allrecipes.com

Written by:  Melissa Welker M.Ed., B.S., Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fulton County, Maumee Valley EERA, welker.87@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Donna Green, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, Erie Basin EERA, green.308@osu.edu

 

 

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4802625827_63cd6f152e_sChildren will soon be returning to school and to the routines that the school year brings. For many families, this means back to the routine of packing a lunch each day.  We want to make sure that the lunches we pack are healthy, safe and delicious!

For a healthy lunch, keep in mind the MyPlate guidance. Check out Choosemyplate.gov . One of the main messages of MyPlate is to make half of your plate fruits and vegetables. This is something relatively easy to accomplish in a lunch you pack yourself. For example, pack a whole fruit like an apple, banana, or a bunch of grapes. You can also add an individual container of applesauce or a variety of different fruits that are packed in natural juice. For vegetables, most children like baby carrots especially if you include a small container of low-fat dip! Other veggie favorites are cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower and peppers or even a small salad.

Another message from MyPlate is to make at least half of the grains you eat during the day whole grains. Use whole grain bread for the sandwich you pack, try pretzels for a snack instead of potato chips. Whole grain crackers spread with peanut butter or eaten with slices of cheese are a great addition to a healthy lunch.

MyPlate recommends that we consume low fat or fat free dairy products. Most schools make fresh, low fat milk available for children in the lunchroom. The calcium provided by milk is very important to children’s developing bones. If your child is not a milk drinker, you can pack yogurt, cottage cheese, string cheese or sliced cheese to help them get the calcium they need each day.

You don’t want to forget the protein group. There are a variety of foods that we can choose from to meet the need for protein in our lunch. If you choose meat, make sure that it is lean. Turkey or lean beef are good choices. Other non-meat sources include eggs, peanut butter, beans, nuts, seeds and soy products.

To pack a safe lunch, remember that any perishable food you pack needs to be kept below 40° to stay safe. You can accomplish this in a variety of ways.

  • Use an insulated lunch bag with a frozen ice pack.
  • Freeze the sandwich, a juice box or yogurt container and pack it in the lunch bag to keep everything safe. By the time lunch rolls around, the sandwich, juice or yogurt should be thawed!

You also want to be careful about cross-contamination. This can happen if you are reusing paper or plastic bags or if you don’t remember to wash out the reusable bag each day. Remind your child to discard wrappers and leftover food as soon as they finish their lunch. Don’t forget the importance of hand washing to prevent the spread of bacteria. If your child won’t have access to warm water and soap before eating, it wouldn’t hurt to put a disposable hand wipe at the top of the lunch bag!

A delicious lunch may not be something that you and your child will necessarily agree on. Be sure and ask them for ideas for a healthy, safe lunch that they would like to eat.  Don’t fall into the peanut butter and jelly every day trap! You might ask your child to help make a list of healthy foods from each section of MyPlate and use that list to vary what is packed each day.

By allowing your child to help plan and pack their own lunch, you are providing an opportunity to talk about making healthy food choices. Encouraging them to make a choice from each of the food groups every day may increase the odds that they will actually eat the lunch that is packed and help them develop good eating habits for life.

Author: Marilyn Rabe, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, Heart of Ohio EERA, rabe.9@osu.edu

Reviewer: Elizabeth Smith, R.D., L.D. Northeast Region Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

Source:  MyPlate    http://choosemyplate.gov

School Lunches: Add Variety by soliciting the help of your children http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/school_lunches_add_variety_by_soliciting_the_help_of_your_children

What Can I Pack my Kids for Lunch   http://www.ext.colostate.edu/

Healthy Packed Lunches for Back to School http://byf.unl.edu/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=d17c90e6-539d-4ab8-92e7-cbfe2e482647&groupId=4089458&.pdf

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