Summer Lunchin’

I’m baaaaack! It’s been a while and honestly, I wasn’t inspired enough to give you content that I felt would be worthy of you reading. I took on too much and my brain/heart just wasn’t in it BUT today I felt super inspired because I was trying to wrack my brain about what to give the boys for lunch. Summer is coming and if you have kids who are going to be home or you are going to need to pack them lunches for summer camp, you came to the right place!

I decided to pull together a list of delicious, quick, healthy, and low-cost lunches for you and your kiddos this summer. So what makes a healthy lunch anyway? Welllll I’m so glad you asked! A healthy lunch doesn’t have to be gourmet, take forever to make, or break the bank! It just has to be balanced enough for you and your kiddos to get nourishment and energy that you’ll need to conquer all of the summers most fun moments!

A healthy lunch consists of:
– Protein (for snack/hunger control): turkey lunch meat, peanut butter, beans, peas, cheese, greek yogurt, chicken, tuna, ground beef/chicken/turkey
– Carbohydrates (for energy): whole grain bread, brown rice, potatoes, pasta, pizza crust, corn, beans, peas, lentils, fruit (yep it counts!)
– Veggies (because I said so): carrots, celery, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli, veggie soup, tomato soup, snap peas, cauliflower, etc etc etc

From there, get creative! Keeping it low cost is a cinch…seriously, don’t make this too hard on yourself and too time-consuming either! If you use SNAP benefits, these ideas will help your access money stretch! If you get food from your local food bank/pantry keep your eyes peeled for these things! If you’re watching your food budget (like I do) take these tips to heart!

  • Make a meal plan and stick with it. Check your pantry for foods you already have and use them up! Cans of tuna? Tuna salad/casserole this week. Pasta sauce, yep you guessed it! Some kind of pasta dish! From there create a grocery list (if you get food bank items, meal plan around them). ONLY BUY WHAT IS ON YOUR LIST!
  • ROTATE IDEAS! Seriously, don’t reinvent the wheel. Your kiddos (and you) will have your favorite lunches so use them once a week/once every other week. They’ll love you for it and so will your brain šŸ˜‰ You know that works, they’ll eat it, and it’ll be budget friendly, right?!
  • Because it’s summer, get your fruits and veggies FRESH! They’ll be much cheaper (especially if you plant a garden) and definitely tastier! Check local farmers markets to see if they accept the Farmers Market Nutrition Program (WIC and senior assistance). Many farmers markets also accept access cards. SNAP also covers fruits and vegetables you can plant! You’ll find the SNAP logo on the approved ones.

10 Fun Ideas For Summer Lunchin’

  1. Tomato soup and cheesy flatbread – canned tomato soup will work just fine for this but if you want to make homemade, go for it! I use flatbread or thin pizza crusts…brush with oil, sprinkle with garlic powder/oregano/basil/black pepper, and a small layer of cheese. Bake or broil until cheese is melted! Cut in strips for easy tomato soup dipping!
  2. Tuna salad with crackers and celery – tuna, mayo, and diced pickles are how I like to make my tuna salad. Shoot for a cracker that gives some fiber like wheat thins or triscuits. Serve with a side of celery sticks (these are great to dip into the tuna salad too)!
  3. Garden fresh pasta salad – whole grain or high fiber pasta makes a great base but you can use regular pasta too! Use any veggies you have and add some cubed cheese for protein. My favorite dressing is an Italian style (I make it homemade) but use whatever you like.
  4. Grilled chicken salad with black beans – after making grilled chicken for dinner, use the leftovers in a salad! Top with black beans and your favorite dressing and you’ve got yourself a balanced lunch.
  5. Corn tortilla chips, guacamole, and salsa – my sister makes the.best.guacamole.ever…seriously! Her secret ingredient is sour cream! A great substitute for sour cream is Greek yogurt AND it adds tons of protein! Making guacamole with avocado, limes, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and greek yogurt and serve it with corn tortilla chips (whole grain plus more protein), and salsa!
  6. Sushi-like hummus wraps – grab your favorite hummus flavor, very thinly sliced cucumbers, julienned carrots and peppers, and whole grain wrap. Make it and roll it up tightly! Cut it into small slices like sushi!!!
  7. Turkey bacon BLTs – Turkey bacon, lettuce, garden fresh tomatoes, and whole grain bread. It’s old school but it is SO GOOD! PS if your kiddos don’t like tomatoes, try it with cucumbers instead šŸ™‚
  8. Egg salad sandwiches – Hardboil up a dozen of eggs (use them for this salad, chopped up in a veggie salad, for snacks, etc), I like pickles, celery, and mayo in my egg salad! Gives it a little pop and crunch. Spread on whole grain bread with tomato and lettuce…mmmmmm.
  9. Turkey and cheese kabobs – go to the deli and get turkey breast in a chunk. Buy block cheese and then cube both into one-inch cubes. Along with the cubes of meat and cheese, add cherry tomatoes, pepper squares, lettuce pieces, mushrooms to the kabob sticks…whatever veggie your kiddos like! On the side use honey mustard dressing for dipping!
  10. Apple slice PBJ – Instead of using bread, make it super fun with apple slices! Cut the apple with the core still in the middle OR use an apple corer to take out the core before cutting them in slices (like a sandwich). Put the peanut butter and a small amount of jam or jelly on one apple slice and then top with another apple slice! Fun and delish!

Don’t reinvent the wheel either! I know ya’ll like looking on Pinterest for ideas but what do your kiddos like? Expand on that! If they enjoy mac ‘n cheese MAKE IT FOR THEM ONCE IN A WHILE! They should have a veggie with it, so give them an option of green beans, broccoli, salad, whatever they like. Hot dogs on your kid’s favorite list? FINE! It’s not an everyday kind of thing but once in a while have fun with it! Make them their favorite veggie side dish and have a picnic outside.

Remember parents…you only have 18 summers (sometimes less if they decide to get a summer job when they are 16) with your kiddos. Don’t make the lunch menu a point of contention with kiddos. Keep it fun, incorporate the things they like too, help them try new things, and eat together!!!!! The love and skills they will gain eating together this summer at lunch are going to be taken with them throughout life. Nurture that as you eat your BLTs on a blanket in your back yard šŸ™‚

Buffalo Turkey Burgers

We were qualifying for a tricycle race…and having a blast as usual.

Have you ever met someone who not only becomes a person you want to be friends with forever but you also share so much in common in life that you become soul sisters? That’s Heather for me and this is theĀ story of our Buffalo Turkey Burgers.

A few years ago my dear friend/fellow dietitian Heather and I decided to doĀ a healthy spin on a burger. We love burgers and buffalo chickenĀ so why not combine the two! You have to understand a few thingsĀ about the both of us. Not only do we like burgers, buffalo chicken, ketchup (French fries are just the transportation to get ketchup in our mouths), and dessert…we like healthy foods too šŸ˜‰ We’ve followed each other throughout ourĀ careers, working at the same places and usually at the same time. Surprisingly, both of us haveĀ identical twins and thankfully I had Heather to support me on the journey to being a new twin mom (I couldn’t have made it through the pregnancy without her encouragement). Oh yeah, we also really love nutrition, cooking/eatingĀ food, and we really really like helpingĀ people on their personal nutrition journeys. This dynamic duo is fly by the seat of our pants, outside the box, not-your-ordinary dietitians…that’s us and that’s how we roll.

Now that you know ourĀ back story here’s how these fantastic burgers came to be. We madeĀ up the recipe to be used for a public event. Although we love to fly by the seat of our pants, we definitely had to practice at least once before it was show time and what better audience than the honesty of a children. So we heldĀ a run-through with her kiddos. They filmed it, rated us, tried the burgers and…IT WAS A HIT! They loved it! If we could please a bunch of kids then we knew we had a winning recipe on our hands. She actually still makes it for her kids…it’s one of their favorite meals.

We added veggies to the meatĀ and then served veggies on the side with a ranch hummus dip. Listen, we are moms and sometimes we need to fit in as many veggies that we can for our family. When I prepared this for mine the other night my daughter said “Mom, the shreddy carrots really make it good.” Sure does young squire, sure does. This is my spin on our Buffalo Turkey Burgers.

Shreddy carrots…and celery, garlic, and green onion.

Side note: this recipe featured here is not gluten or dairy free. I will show you how to make them both as at the end.

Buffalo Turkey Burgers

Burger Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix (you can definitely use your own dry mix if you make it…this stuff has artificial flavors in it so it’s not my favorite but it’s delicious)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pound ground turkey (97/3 or 99% fat free)
  • 1/4 cup minced or finely shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup minced or finely shredded celery
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 minced green onion
  • 1/4-1/2 whole wheat bread crumbs (I usually don’t use these but have on hand if needed and this week I needed)
  • Franks Buffalo Wing Sauce (no amount here, use to your desired spiciness)
  • Whole grain buns
  • Lettuce, tomato, onion, banana peppers, pickles, etc

Hummus Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1 packet Bushes hummus starter (it’s got everything you need and no extra stuff)
  • 1 tablespoon Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix
  • Carrots and celery (to dip into the hummus)

Directions:

  1. Combine dry ranch, egg, turkey, carrots, celery, garlic, onion, and wing sauce. Add bread crumbs if the mixture seems too wet. You want the burgers to stick together!
  2. Split the meat mixture. ForĀ sliders,Ā makeĀ 2-3 ounce patties. ForĀ burgers makeĀ 4 ounce patties.
  3. Grill, broil, or skillet fry the burgers. I used my cast iron skillet (I use this for just about everything).
  4. Ensure that the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees!
  5. While the burgers are cooking start making the hummus. Combine chickpeas, hummus starter, and dry ranch to a food processor. Blend until smooth. If you do not have a food processor use a zipper sealed bag! Seriously, it works just fine.
  6. Serve the burgers on whole wheat buns with hummus, carrots, and celery on the side.

NOTES:

  • To make dairy free simply add ranch style spices: dill, parsley, more garlic. For my sons I just omitted the ranch dressing mix all together (and the wing sauce).
  • To make gluten free omit the bread crumbs. If you need to use another dry binder use gluten free oats. Instead of serving it on a bun you can serve it on a salad with beans. I did for lunch and it was quite delicious! REMEMBER if you are eating gluten free you still need starches (carbohydrates). You can’t just eat the burger on lettuce and call it a day. Serve it with rice, fruit, beans, or a gluten free bun.
  • I omitted the wing sauce from this entire recipe for my family. Normally I wouldn’t because kids should try different foods even if they are spicy but I decided to let my family use the wing sauce instead of ketchup on the burger if they chose.
  • I put the wing sauce on the hummus…woah…delish! I recommend that!

Turkey burger on a salad. Delicious!