Finding kid-friendly, parent-approved lunchbox ideas can be an ongoing challenge. Especially when we want those options to be tasty and nourishing. Including Michigan Beans in your child’s lunch is a great way to add taste, texture and needed nutrients like fiber, protein and potassium. I’ve assembled some delicious, easy recipes that provide these healthy bean benefits to keep your kids energized and able to concentrate during their busy school day.
Check out these tips for keeping kids satisfied at lunch and then try out our easy Michigan Bean recipes that can easily convert your common bento box into a nourishing “Beanto” box!
- Involve your kids. Include children in your grocery shopping trip and then let them help with the preparation and packing of their lunch. The more they’re involved, the more likely they will be to eat and enjoy all of their lunch without throwing any of it away.
- Make it safe. Use an insulated lunch box to keep foods cold and pre-chill the lunch before school. You can also use freezer packs or a frozen juice box. Keep hot foods at temperature in a thermos. Pack child-sized portions to avoid excess leftovers which can go bad, and instruct kids to wash their hands thoroughly before eating.
- Make it fun. Try cutting their sandwich on different angles, or use a cookie cutter to make shapes. Include lots of color and texture with a variety of fruits and veggies which are full of important nutrients. The more appealing their lunch looks to eat, the higher the chance it will end up in their stomach. You can also include a colorful napkin, a personal note or a small surprise
Rockin Rainbow Pasta – This easy-to-assemble, colorful pasta salad can be eaten warm or chilled. Add variety by substituting your child’s favorite veggies or fun pasta shapes.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 can (15-16 oz.) Michigan Navy or Cannellini Beans, drained; or 2 cups cooked dried beans
- 3 cups assorted bell peppers (red, yellow, and green), diced
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 lb. whole grain penne pasta, cooked according to box directions (reserve the pasta water)
- 4 tablespoons pepperoncini’s (fresh or jarred), cored, seeded, sliced thin
- 5 tablespoons canned black ripe olives, chopped
- 4 tablespoons parsley, chopped
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- Heat olive oil in a medium pan over low heat. Add garlic, cook for 3 minutes. Increase heat to high, add beans and peppers. Cook 5 minutes, season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pasta pot according to directions.
- Drain cooked pasta and reserve ½ cup of pasta water. Add pepperoncini, olives, parsley, lemon juice and bean and pepper mixture to the large pasta pot, add pasta and water, toss well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour in a large serving bowl and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.
- Serve hot or cold. Let sit in the refrigerator for 1 hour to serve cold.
Black Bean Salsa with Pineapple
- 1 can (15 oz.) Michigan Black Beans, rinsed and drained; 2 cups cooked dried beans
- 2 cups pineapple tidbits, drained with juice reserved
- 1 cup red bell pepper, diced
- 6 green onions, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves or parsley, chopped
- ¼ cup reserved pineapple juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 jalapeño pepper, minced
- Combine all ingredients in bowl. Toss and serve with whole grain tortilla chips.
Recipes and photos courtesy of cannedbeans.org
Black Bean Chocolate Cake with Strawberries
Kids won’t even know that this moist, delicious cake include the healthy benefits of beans. This fudgy cake will provide a sweet end to their lunch meal with the addition of nourishing protein and fiber. This flourless cake is also gluten-free. Check out the recipe here.
For Michigan Bean cooking tips, nutrition information and recipe inspiration visit MichiganBean.com