Lunchbox Recipes From Best Homemade Kids Lunches Book

O Black Bean Quesadillas

Back-to-school time means putting some thought into creative lunchboxes. Here are some original recipes  from the new book Best Homemade Lunches on the Planet by blogger and author Laura Fuentes.

The book offers simple and approachable recipes designed for various ages, and helps put variety and nutrition back to lunches using fresh, healthful ingredients. The book includes steps on prepping recipes in advance and making ideal child-sized portions based on a child’s age, size, and needs. It features 200 “real-food” recipes, and here are a few of Laura Fuentes’ recipes to give you a sample of what’s in the book.

Black Bean Quesadillas

It’s a myth that quesadillas need to be hot and the cheese needs to be gooey and melty for kids to love them. They are excellent at room temperature and the perfect disguise for healthy things—such as beans. (Pictured above Laura Fuentes’ Black Bean Quesadillas)

1/4 cup (25 g) canned black beans, rinsed
2 tablespoons (16 g) frozen corn, thawed
1 tablespoon (9 g) scallions, chopped very small (optional)
2 teaspoons (1 g) fresh cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon Arriba! Seasoning (page 106)
1/4 cup (30 g) shredded Cheddar cheese
Two 8-inch (20 cm) tortillas
2 ounces (55 g) Homemade Salsa (page 180)
In a large bowl, place the beans, corn, onion, if using, cilantro, seasoning, and cheese. Gently mix until everything is evenly combined.
Scoop the filling and place on top of one side of one tortilla. Top with the second tortilla.
In a warm skillet, cook both sides over medium heat until the tortilla is brown and crispy, and the cheese has melted.
For a school lunch: I like to assemble quesadillas the night before. In the morning, I slowly grill them while I pour myself a cup of coffee. After the quesadilla is grilled, I lay it on a cutting board to cool, usually while I am getting the kids dressed. Then, simply cut and pack them inside the lunchbox.
YIELD: 1 or 2 servings
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Kitchen Note
Why not make extra quesadillas and freeze them? Assemble quesadillas and place flat on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Once the quesadillas are flash frozen, about 1 hour, transfer to a freezer bag and store flat.
To reheat: Warm in the microwave, or grill in a skillet on low, so you won’t burn the tortilla and all the ingredients have time to warm and the cheese to melt.
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o-abc-pinwheels.jpgABC Pinwheels

I love the combination of avocado and bacon. The sweet flavor of ripe avocado paired with the crunchy, salty flavor of bacon is definitely worth each savory bite.

1/4 avocado, mashed
2 teaspoons (10 g) mayonnaise
One 8-inch (20 cm) flour tortilla
2 slices (15 g) bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 tablespoons (15 g) shredded, white Cheddar cheese
In a small bowl, mash the avocado and mix with the mayonnaise.
Place the tortilla on a cutting board, and spread the mayonnaise–avocado mixture evenly over the top. Top with the bacon and cheese.
Roll the tortilla tightly. Cut the tortilla roll in half, and then into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces.
YIELD: 1 serving

Laura’s Tip
Save time in the morning by assembling pinwheels the night before and packing them in the lunchbox.

Breakfast Burritoo-breakfast-burrito.jpg

No more frozen breakfast burritos with mystery ingredients, or a quick trip to the drive-through. This is the perfect make-ahead recipe that your entire family will love!
1 tablespoon (16 g) Homemade Salsa (page 180)
1 tablespoon (15 g) sour cream
One 8-inch (20 cm) tortilla
1 large egg, scrambled
2 tablespoons (15 g) shredded cheese
1 slice (7 g) bacon, cooked and crumbled
In a small bowl, the mix salsa and sour cream.
Lay the tortilla on a cutting board, and spread the salsa mixture evenly on the middle third. Lay the egg, cheese, and bacon on top. Fold the sides in, and then roll into a burrito.
For the lunchbox: Wrap in parchment paper and a thin layer of foil to retain the heat (optional). If you must have these warm, cut them in half and insert face up inside a thermos.
YIELD: 1 serving
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Kitchen Note
Get a pack (or two) of flour tortillas and make extra breakfast burritos. Line a baking sheet with parch- ment paper, lay the burritos flat 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart and flash freeze. Transfer the frozen burritos into a freezer ziplock bag. To warm, microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute and enjoy. Store in the freezer up to 2 months.

o-mexican-soup.jpgMexican Soup

With mild, robust flavors, this soup is perfect to fill the thermos on a cold day.

2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup (130 g) carrots, coarsely diced
1/2 cup (75 g) green bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup (80 g) onion, diced
2 small zucchini, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons (14 g) ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 can (14 ounces, or 396 g) petite diced tomatoes, drained
4 cups (940 ml) vegetable broth
1 can (14 ounces, or 400 g) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup (235 ml) water
1/2 cup (95 g) uncooked brown rice
Cilantro for garnish
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add in the carrots, pepper, onion, zucchini, and garlic. Sauté until just tender, and add in the cumin, oregano, and chili powder. Stir and cook for 1 minute until the spices are fragrant.
Pour in the tomatoes, broth, beans, and water. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
Stir in the rice and simmer for an additional 35 minutes. Garnish with cilantro to serve.
YIELD: 6 servings

Photos are courtesy of Laura Fuentes’ new book Best Homemade Lunches on the Planet

To find more of all kinds of recipes for your family, visit our recipes page.

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