By Sarah Henry
Jazz up your child's lunch by thinking outside lunch box staples and choosing foods from different parts of the world instead. The essential building blocks of these dishes — rice, beans, noodles, and chicken — can be prepared ahead (and served for dinner the night before) then transformed into wraps, rolls, flatbreads, soups, or salads for lunch.
In the guide, Cooking with California Food in K-12 Schools, veteran chef and cookbook author Georgeanne Brennan teamed up with Ann M. Evans to create recipes based on six popular dishes (soup, salad, pasta, rice bowls, wraps, and pizza), combined with flavors from six world regions (Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and India). The downloadable guide, says Brennan, "offers ideas for adding fresh, local, healthy foods with a global focus to school lunch.”
Ingredients for the healthy cuisine associated with countries in this region, such as Italy, Greece, and Spain, include: olives, olive oil, garlic, basil, tomatoes, cheeses (mozzarella, parmesan, and feta), and pasta.
7 tasty lunch ideas using Mediterranean staples:
Asia is about as culturally and culinarily diverse as it gets, but there are common ingredients found in many Asian cuisines, including: tofu, ginger (fresh or pickled), rice, soy sauce, tamari sauce, seaweed (nori), and rice paper wrappers.
4 Asian-inspired lunch ideas:
Signature tastes from this part of the world include kid-friendly foods, such as: avocados, beans, jicama (a crunchy, mild-tasting fruit), quinoa (a protein-packed, grain-like seed), mangos, and tortillas.
3 dishes with Latin American flair:
Most kids love dips — and creamy dips are a popular starter in the Middle East and in European countries like Greece and Turkey. Common ingredients in Middle Eastern foods include: olive oil, garlic, garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas), peppers, and bulgur (cracked wheat).
3 lunch ideas with Middle Eastern influence:
Flavors from Africa (north and south) can be combined with ingredients from the southern U.S. to create healthy, satisfying fare. Common ingredients include: black-eyed peas, peanuts, sweet potatoes, and couscous.
6 African-meets-Southern lunch ideas:
Indian dishes tend to be fragrant, with spices such as cardamom, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, curry, and turmeric. Other common Indian ingredients include: yogurt, chickpeas, paneer (cheese), chutney, and rice.
3 flavorful Indian lunch ideas: