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Making Kids' Lunchtime Veggie-Licious
Tips for Packing Fun and Nutritious Lunches

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Rock N' Rollups

(Family Features) - When packing school lunches, parents often struggle to provide their kids with nutritious meals, but also something that won't get tossed away in the lunchroom.

"Lunch contributes one-third to one-half of a child's nutritional intake, so it's important that parents pack healthful foods, including vegetables and fruits." says Jodie Shield, R.D., a faculty member of the College of Health Sciences in the Department of Clinical Nutrition at Rush University in Chicago. According to Shield, about 80 percent of adolescents do not eat the minimum recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables. But helping kids reach their dietary recommendations is easier than some think.

A recent study conducted by the University of California Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program found that children consumed 23 percent more vegetables when paired with a moderate amount of ranch dressing. "It's not surprising that a flavor enhancer, like ranch dressing, can make veggie eating more enjoyable for kids," says Shield.

Shield offers parents these lunch ideas to help get kids to love their veggies:
  • Size it. Buy single-serve portions of vegetables and dip, such as the kid-friendly baby carrots and Hidden Valley Original Ranch single-serve cups.
  • Shake It. Fill plastic containers with pasta, tomatoes, diced bell peppers, onions and broccoli, grated Parmesan cheese, and your child's favorite salad dressing; shake and eat.
  • Spread It. Puree garbanzo beans, garlic, and a splash of lemon juice and olive oil in a blender for a quick hummus; spread on crackers.
  • Slurp It. Fill a thermos with vegetable soups, like minestrone, beef vegetable and split pea.
  • Sneak It. Bake a loaf of pumpkin or zucchini bread and top with whipped cream cheese.
And in an effort to speak directly to kids, the Gerasole Girls, Isabella (age 11) and Olivia (age 8), co-hosts of the award-winning cooking Web site for kids, Spatulatta.com, have created an easy and tasty lunch recipe to get their peers to eat their veggies:

Rock N' Rollups

Ingredients
  • Hidden Valley Original Ranch bottled dressing*
  • Flour tortillas
  • Veggies cut in strips, such as red peppers, matchstick carrots, shredded lettuce, olives and tomatoes
  • Shredded turkey or ham (leftovers are good here)
  • Plastic wrap

Preparation
    1. Center tortilla on sheet of plastic wrap.
    2. Spread Hidden Valley Original Ranch bottled dressing* on tortilla, almost to edges.
    3. Pile meat and veggies in an oval in center of tortilla.
    4. Take one edge of tortilla and turn 1/2 inch of it in toward the center. (This will keep veggies from squeezing out bottom when you bite it.)
    5. Take a side edge and roll across the tortilla.
    6. To complete, move Rock N' Rollup to edge of plastic wrap and roll it up in the wrap.
    7. Twist ends tightly. Pack into your lunch bag.

Notes, Tips & Suggestions
*Hidden Valley Original Ranch can be substituted with their Light or Fat Free dressing offerings.

SOURCE: Hidden Valley


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