The school year is officially begun, and that means that day in, day out, parents will be packing lunches for their school-age children. In an ideal world, this lunch would not only offer a balanced meal of fruits, veggies, and protein; it would also keep kids interested in eating by mixing tried-and-true favorites with new additions.
If you're stumped on a veggie dish, don't despair! Here are three kid-friendly salads that will go down easy, and keep kids begging for more where that came from!
Ham, Bean and Pineapple Salad This chunky, robust salad has a good mix of sweet and savory flavors. The fruit adds a delicious sweetness, which always goes down well with children, as well as a nutritional boost. Choose pineapple canned in natural juice rather than syrup.
- 1 cup canned pineapple, cut into chunks
- 5 ½ oz. thickly cut good-quality ham, cubed
- 3 ½ oz. canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 tsp. natural juice from the pineapple
- 1 ½ tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp. white wine vinegar
- ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
- Mix together the ingredients for the dressing.
- Put the pineapple, ham, and beans in a bowl, then pour the dressing over the top. Toss the salad well to coat it thoroughly in the dressing.
Pesto Pasta Salad Popular with kids, pesto makes a quick and easy dressing when mixed with mayonnaise. The small flowerets of broccoli add lots of goodness, but may not appeal to all children, so you can swap them for corn or bell pepper instead. New potatoes can replace the pasta.
- 1 cup farfalle pasta
- 6 small flowerets broccoli
- 2 oz. frozen petits pois
- 2 oz. mature cheddar cheese, cut into small chunks
- 1 tbsp. mayonnaise
- 1-2 tbsp. pesto
- squeeze of lemon juice
- freshly ground black pepper
- Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, stir, and cook following the package directions until al dente. Drain well and refresh under cold water.
- Meanwhile, steam the broccoli 4 minutes until only just tender—it should still be slightly crunchy. Ass the peas about 1 ½ minutes before the end of the cooking time. Refresh the vegetables under cold running water
- Mix the dressing ingredients together, adding pesto to taste, and season with pepper. Put the pasta, vegetables, and cheddar in a bowl, and spoon dressing over the top. Turn the salad with a spoon to coat it in the dressing.
Chinese Noodle Salad Noodles are fun to eat and just as good cold as hot. The oriental-style dressing not only has a delicious ginger and sesame flavor, but also prevents the noodles sticking together, which they can do when cold. For this reason it's best to pour the dressing over while they are warm.
- heaped ½ cup medium egg noodles
- 1 carrot, cut into thin strips
- 2 in. piece cucumber, seeded and cut into matchsticks
- 2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 2 scallions, finely sliced
- 3 tbsp. chopped cilantro or basil (optional)
- 1 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp. soy sauce
- 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
- 1 small clove garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- Cook the noodles following the package instructions: drain and refresh under cold running water. Meanwhile, mix together the ingredients for the dressing. Pour it over the noodles and leave to cool.
- Put the noodles, carrot, cucumber, tomatoes, scallions, and cilantro or basil, if using, in a bowl, then toss with your hands to mix. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds.
Excerpted with permission from Think Outside the Lunchbox: The Top 100 Recipes for a Healthy Lunchbox by Nicola Graimes (Sterling Publishing Co., 2007).