A healthy lunch from the cooler

Be sure your lunches stay safe and bacteria-free by keeping the cold food cold and the warm food in a thermos.

by Joanne Henning Tedesco — 

You can save calories — and money — by packing your own healthy lunches, including sandwiches and salads that will elevate the usual brown-bag fare from dull and drab to delicious. Add an apple or some nuts for a mid-morning and afternoon snack.

Research is showing that children who bring homemade lunches to school are less inclined to obesity.

Be sure your lunches stay safe and bacteria-free by keeping the cold food cold and the warm food in a thermos. Soft, insulated lunch bags or boxes work best. Include a frozen gel pack, or freeze juice, small water bottles or yogurt and put with the food. All will be thawed by lunchtime.

Herbed Chicken Nuggets


  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs, seasoned
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


Preheat oven to 425°. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray. Trim any fat from chicken and cut into 1 inch cubes. In a bowl, beat the eggs with the water and add the chicken. Combine the parsley, thyme, red pepper, bread crumbs, wheat germ, basil and ground pepper. Stir in the oil with a fork, and mix well to distribute evenly. Pour seasoning mixture into a resealable plastic bag with the chicken to coat. Place coated chicken on the prepared baking sheet and bake at 425° for 10 minutes, turn the pieces and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Yield: 4 servings.

Turkey Wraps


  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese with chives
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 6 (8 inch) whole wheat tortillas
  • 1-1/2 cups finely shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 12 slices thinly sliced deli turkey
  • 3/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1 large avocado, sliced
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled


Mix together the cream cheese and Dijon mustard until smooth. Spread each tortilla with about 2 tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture, spreading to within 1/4 inch of the edge of the tortillas. Arrange about 1/4 cup of shredded lettuce on each tortilla, and press the lettuce down into the cream cheese mixture. Place two turkey slices per tortilla over the lettuce, and sprinkle with two tablespoons of shredded Swiss cheese. Top each tortilla evenly with tomato, avocado slices and crumbled bacon. Roll each tortilla up tightly, and cut in half across the middle with a slightly diagonal cut. Yield: 6 servings.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin-Applesauce Muffins


  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk, or add 1 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice to 1/3 cup milk; let stand for 5 minutes before adding to recipe
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)


Preheat oven to 400°. Grease 12 muffin cups, or line with paper muffin liners. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice; set aside. Combine the brown sugar, white sugar, oil, applesauce, pumpkin, buttermilk and beaten eggs, and mix until well blended. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in the raisins and pecans, if desired. Divide the batter evenly in the prepared muffin pan. Bake 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven until the tops spring back or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the muffin pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes before removing the muffins from the pan. Yield: 12 servings.

Stuffed Celery


  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 20 green olives with pimento, chopped
  • 1 bunch celery, cut into bite-size pieces


In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese and sour cream. Stir in the walnuts and chopped olives. Spread filling onto the celery pieces or serve with crackers. Yield: 16 servings.


www.allrecipes.com, www.myrecipes.com and Joanne’s recipe box.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 5, Oct/Nov 2010.

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