How to make a healthy school lunch and after-school snack



photoHeidi O'Connor, owner, The Kids Cooking Corner

After School Snack: Fruit Pizza

(you can do most of this advance)

8-inch whole wheat tortilla or pita pocket

1/2 tsp of sugar

1/8 tsp of cinnamon

2 tbs of cream cheese

1/3 cup strawberries

1/4 cup blueberries, grapes or peaches

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place tortilla (or pita pocket) on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake about ten minutes, or until crisp.
  3. Mix the sugar and cinnamon
  4. Place hot tortilla on cutting board; spread cream cheese on tortilla.
  5. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture.
  6. Arrange fruit on top, cut into four wedges and serve warm.

We all remember back in the day when our largest concern as kids on the first day of school was how cool our lunchbox was—mine was Holly Hobby!—and what exciting junk food items we could trade for. Nowadays, as parents, we have greater concerns and responsibilities, such as making sure that our children are prepared with the right nutrition to help their bodies and brains grow healthy and sharp! If you find yourself asking questions like, “How can I make a nutritious lunch that my child will eat?” and “Is there such a thing as a healthy snack?” then you’re not alone. Healthy lunches and after-school snacks can be fun and easy with the right facts and a little preparation.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new food icon “MyPlate” demonstrates that you need to make half of your plate fruits and vegetables, make at least half of your grains whole grains, choose lean protein, and switch to low fat (1%) or fat free milk.

Involve your children in making their lunches and have fun with it! If your child helps with their lunch they will be proud of their accomplishment! Get creative and use mayonnaise with olive oil for lower fat content and choose turkey for a lean protein choice. A great tip for parents: keep a thermos on hand for your child. Store leftovers for a hot delicious lunch!

And don't forget that snacks count, too.

Does this sound like your child? Little Sammy gets off the bus and runs straight to the fridge looking for something quick and easy to chow down on. Sammy will reach for something he can just grab and eat quickly. If we do a small amount of prep work beforehand kids can have an amazingly healthy snack that would satisfy just about any palate! Here are a few recipes for a healthy sack lunch and after-school snack here:

Healthy Lunch: Pizza Roll Ups with Fruit and Veggies:

1 8-inch whole-wheat flour tortilla

2 tablespoons prepared pizza sauce

12 leaves baby spinach

3 tablespoons shredded part-skim mozzarella

1/2 cup cucumber spears

1/2 cup cauliflower florets

2 tablespoons low-fat creamy dressing, such as ranch

1 cup small watermelon pieces

  1. Place tortilla on a plate and spread pizza sauce over it. Top with an even layer of spinach and sprinkle cheese on top. Microwave on High until the cheese is just melted, about 45 seconds. Carefully roll the tortilla up. Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing into pieces, if desired. Pack the slices in a medium container.
  2. Pack cucumber and cauliflower in another medium container. Nestle a small, dip-size container among the vegetables and add dressing.
  3. Pack watermelon in one small container.

Please visit for more after school recipes!

Heidi O’Connor is, first and foremost, a mother of three. Married to a wonderful man named Rodger they raise their children in Vancouver. Heidi has always put an emphasis on well balanced nutrition for her own children. During the summer of 2010, she was trying to figure out a new career. She started cooking even more with the kids and watching their eyes light up when they helped out and served “Dad” their creations. The light bulb went on! Why not teach other people’s children how to cook? Heidi knew firsthand the difficulties of finding the time to teach her own kids in the kitchen, when she had a full time career. Knowing the school system does not have the budgets any more for Home Ec, it just made sense! Heidi’s middle son Austin named the business “The Kids Cooking Corner." It's now registered as a 501(c)3 nonprofit.