October 14, 2016
Vol. VIII No. 21
Photo courtesy of istockphoto.com
Kid-Friendly Mediterranean Dishes
It's the last day of National School Lunch Week, and to celebrate, we've collected a few of our favorite kid-friendly Mediterranean lunch and snack ideas. A healthy lunch helps kids power through their day, and with Mediterranean flavors, they'll eat it more for the delicious taste than anything else.  

National School Lunch Week was created in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy as an annual celebration of the National School Lunch Program, a federal program that provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children every school day. Our knowledge of what makes for a healthy lunch has come a long way since 1962. For one, we have a better understanding of the Mediterranean diet and all of its benefits, for adults and children alike.

Enjoying healthy meals with your kids outside of school is one way to nudge them toward making healthy choices in the lunch line. And, even better, get your child involved with tasks in the kitchen like washing vegetables, measuring ingredients, or crumbling cheese.

If you pack your child's lunch, cook extra and save leftovers for future lunches. Luckily, many Mediterranean dinners pack well the next day. Try making a vegetable frittata with their favorite vegetables, and divide it into slices for lunch all week. Egg dishes like frittatas and quiches taste just as delicious cold or room temperature. Or, make a big batch of whole grain pasta: serve some hot for dinner and save some to toss with olive oil, tomatoes, and fresh basil for an easy pasta salad for lunch. 

For times when you don't have leftovers ready to go, keep these Mediterranean staples on hand for easy lunches:
  • Hummus - pack a few tablespoons of hummus with whole grain pita or crackers, sliced bell peppers and carrots, and fresh fruit. Add olives and feta cheese to make it extra Mediterranean. Research shows kids eat more veggies when there's dip with them.
  • Canned tuna - make a tuna salad sandwich, Mediterranean style. Toss a can of flaked tuna with half an avocado instead of mayonnaise, then add fresh parsley, chopped roasted red peppers from a jar, olive oil, and lemon juice for a colorful, kid-friendly sandwich. Scoop it on whole grain bread.  
  • Greek yogurt - pack a container of Greek yogurt along with some granola and chopped fresh fruit or berries for a DIY parfait.
  • Canned beans and lentils - toss rinsed and drained canned beans, such as cannellini beans, and/or lentils with olive oil, lemon juice, fresh chopped herbs, carrots and onions, and pack with whole grain pita, a slice or two of cheese, and fresh fruit.
For more easy Mediterranean lunch and snack ideas, check out the recipes below. 

Click on a title or photo below to go to the recipe.

Try these pita pockets for a Mediterranean twist on classic cobb salad. Feta cheese, olives, and tzatziki sauce are added to traditional cobb ingredients, and stuffed into a pita for easy eating that kids will love. 

Recipe and photo courtesy of FOODMatch

Brighten up school days with these hummus, veggie and toasted walnut wraps. In addition to offering a tasty crunch, walnuts add plant-based omega-3 fatty acids. 

Recipe and photo courtesy of California Walnuts

Make a big batch of this granola and keep it in a covered container in the pantry for easy breakfasts and after-school snacking. Or, pack it for lunch with Greek yogurt and fruit. Yum!

Recipe and photo courtesy of The Peanut Institute

Books We Recommend

By Gabriela Llamas

Let's Cook Spanish is a beautifully illustrated family cookbook filled with easy recipes that kids can master. Every recipe is written in both Spanish and English, so you can teach your kids about Spanish culture, the language, and how to cook - all at the same time!

By Anna Prandoni

Part of the same series as Let's Cook Spanish, Let's Cook Italian is all about Italian food, language, and culture. It features simple, delicious recipes that kids will enjoy cooking and eating, all while learning Italian. Each recipe is written in both English and Italian. 

By Mollie Katzen and Ann Henderson

Pretend Soup is filled with real, tasty recipe kids will enjoy. It's wonderful illustrations capture the culinary imagination of kids in preschool and up. It also gives kids a chance to practice their reading, math, and logic skills. 

Vegtoberfest is our month-long campaign to get YOU to eat more plants, and to share your personal story behind going "veg" for the month. Kids can join too! Learn more by clicking the image below:

Fresh Fridays is a bi-weekly celebration of Mediterranean eating and living. We hope our Friday recipes will remind you just how easy and delicious eating the Mediterranean way can be.