These spinach tortilla pinwheels are filled with egg omelets and cherry tomatoes. (Reshma Seetharam)

Five kid-tested school lunches that are colorful and healthy

It can be a challenge to pack yummy and healthy school lunches every day of the week.

Here are a few kid-tested recipes for lunch boxes that will come home empty. Whether they are prepped the evening before or in the early morning, these lunches can be made in a snap.

Most of my school lunch ideas are healthy and colorful. With each sandwich, I pack at least two serving of fruits or vegetables and a serving of calcium.

One way to make sure your kids are enjoying their lunches is to take them along to the grocery store. Let them help you pick out the week’s fruits and vegetables, as well as their favorite milk, yogurt or cheese.

To save time preparing your children’s lunches each morning, slice the vegetables over the weekend. Store them in the refrigerator in resealable plastic bags or reusable containers.

Mini veggie pizzas

12slices whole wheat bread

2 cups mozzarella or parmesan cheese, shredded

1 cup bell peppers, stems and seeds removed, thinly sliced

1 cup carrot, grated

1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced

1 cup broccoli, cut and steamed for a few minutes

1 cup tomato sauce

You’ll need a cookie cutter to make these mini pizzas. Have fun with the shape of your cookie cutters.

Using a cookie cutter, cut out pizza crusts from the bread slices.

Place the crusts on a baking sheet. Spoon about a teaspoon of tomato sauce on each. Sprinkle on the vegetables and the cheese.

Note: Make these pizzas your own by adding in any other sliced vegetables. You can also add any pre-cooked meat of your choice.

Place pizzas in a 400 degree oven and bake them for 6 to 8 minutes or until the cheese melts.

Let the pizzas cool before you tuck them into lunch boxes.

Makes 12 or 24 mini pizzas. My football-shapped cutter makes 2 mini pizzas out of 1 slice of bread.

Egg and spinach tortilla pinwheels

4 spinach tortillas

4 large eggs

1 cup cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced

4 ounces cream cheese

1 teaspoon Italian dressing dry mix

For the Italian dressing mix:

¼ teaspoon garlic salt

½ teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon dried thyme

¼ teaspoon dried basil

Pinch of celery salt

Make a plain omelet with the 4 eggs. Set aside.

In a microwave safe bowl, soften the cream cheese in the microwave for about 10 seconds.

Add the Italian dressing mix and stir until mixed well.

Spread 1 tablespoon or more of the creamy mixture onto each tortilla. Top with 1⁄4 omelet and cherry tomatoes.

Note: You may add any meat or cheese of your liking.

Tightly roll the tortillas up. Refrigerate the prepped wraps for about 30 minutes.

Slice the tortillas into 1-inch wheels. Makes 4 servings.

Ham and cheese paninis

8 large slices of bread

2 tomatoes, thinly sliced

12slices of ham of your choice

4 slices of cheese of your choice

½ cup butter, salted

½ cup mayonnaise

Salt and pepper to taste

Spread mayonnaise on the base slice of bread. Assemble ham, tomatoes and cheese, one on top of the other, onto one of the bread slices. Cover it with another slice of bread lightly coated with mayonnaise on the inner side. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Grill the sandwich in a panini press. Repeat steps three times.

Serve hot off the grill or cold in a kid’s lunchbox. Makes 4 grilled sandwiches.

Turkey and cucumber subs

3 whole wheat hot dog buns

1 cucumber, peeled and cut into slices

3 teaspoons butter at room temperature

For the meat filling:

1 pound ground turkey

1 cup onion, diced

1 cup fresh or frozen peas

½ cup grated carrots

½ teaspoon ginger garlic paste

1 teaspoon yogurt or sour cream

½ teaspoon red chili or cayenne pepper powder

¼ teaspoon garam masala powder

Salt to taste

2 teaspoons olive oil

Add olive oil to a saucepan on medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add the ground turkey meat and fry until brown. Takes about 3-5 minutes.

Add in the onions and ginger garlic paste. Once the onions turn transparent, add peas and carrots. Cook until soft. Create a pit in the middle of the saucepan by pushing the meat to the sides, so the oil accumulates in the center.

Add the powders to the oil and fry for 1 minute. Add in the yogurt and salt. Cook for another 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the pan cool.

In the meantime, smear butter on the inside of each bun and arrange about 4 slices of cucumber. Note: You may toast the buns if you like.

Spoon in about 3 teaspoons of ground turkey. Cut each filled hot dog bun in half. Makes six sandwiches.

When packing these sandwiches for a kid’s lunch, wrap each sandwich in cling wrap before cutting them in half.

Veggie paninis with mint chutney

8 slices of bread

2 tomatoes, sliced

1 green bell pepper, sliced

1 cucumber, sliced

4 slices of cheese of your choice

½ cup salted butter

½ cup mint chutney

For the mint chutney:

1 cup fresh mint leaves

1 cup fresh cilantro or coriander leaves

2 to 3 garlic cloves

1 spicy green chili pepper

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon lime juice

Pinch of sugar

Blend all the mint chutney ingredients into a fine paste. Set aside. You can make this ahead of time and store in the refrigerator.

Spread butter on one slice of bread and mint chutney on another.

Assemble cucumber, tomatoes, peppers and cheese, one on top of the other, onto one of the slices of bread.

Grill the sandwich in a panini press. Repeat steps three times.

Serve hot off the grill or cold in a kid’s lunchbox. Makes 4 sandwiches.

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