In Scout’s LunchBots’ Duo, on top of red oak leaf lettuce, there’s blackberries, organic (O.) blueberries, and O. strawberries garnished with a sprig of chocolate mint. Chunky O. carrot and O. Persian cucumbers sticks pair with pieces of Beth Moore’s Produce Pickled Okra. Scout’s “It’s Greek to Me!” Pasta Salad (Trader Joe’s O. Whole Wheat Fusilli Pasta, TJ’s Pesto alla Genovese, TJ’s Jumbo Pitted Greek Kalamata Olives, TJ’s O. Cherry Tomatoes, TJ’s O. Sprouted Tofu (Extra Firm), TJ’s Dry Toasted Pignolias (Pine Nuts), and TJ’s Pecorino & Romano Parmesan Cheese Blend) fills the other half of the Duo.
You may remember me taking on “The Healthy Lunch Challenge” back in March with my DIY Almond Butter & Fruit Pizzas. I was thrilled to have that post be among those ultimately featured on The Huffington Post and Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. Now, I’m absolutely tickled to be able to participate in Round 2. Jennifer Tyler Lee is the Mom that created the award-winning “Crunch a Color” nutrition games that make healthy eating fun! There’s extra points for trying new foods in this round, and Scout was up to the challenge.
When I first saw the Crunch a Color game, I’ll admit that I didn’t think we were the target audience. After all, Scout’s one of the healthiest eaters I know…it’s never been a battle to get her to munch on a wide rainbow of fresh fruits and veg. Our problem lies in textures and combining different foods. That’s where Crunch a Color’s New Food Bonus card has given Scout the boost she needed. For this challenge post she tried pine nuts and kalamata olives for the first time, and loved them! And, she was so excited by the new food challenge, she sampled pickled okra in her lunch earlier this week…just because. Now, it’s her new favorite pickle! *
I, also, broadened our family’s definition of new foods to include new dishes as well…and, that’s how we ended with pasta salad in her lunch! This is a big step for Scout…a big, big, step. She loves pasta. She loves cold pasta. But, the idea of mixing “stuff” and sauce in her pasta made her squirm. I brainstormed what I could use to dress the pasta, and finally decided that pesto was the safest option for Scout. I wanted to make this a positive experience for her, so I decided to stay away from anything creamy…that is so not on her radar yet. Then we used some of our drive time to come up with the other ingredients together. I suggested mozzarella for the protein, she wanted tofu…tofu, it was! She chose fresh tomatoes over sun-dried, and I picked the kalamatas and pine nuts for the “new foods”. Can I just tell you how proud I am that Scout stepped outside her comfort zone to try these new foods? And, I love that I can whip up a pasta salad while I’m clearing away dinner, to pop in her lunch the next morning…easy-peasy, y’all!
Scout’s “It’s Greek to Me!” Pasta Salad
- 8 oz. Trader Joe’s Organic Whole Wheat Fusilli Pasta
- 1/4 cup Trader Joe’s Pesto alla Genovese
- 12-14 Trader Joe’s Jumbo Pitted Greek Kalamata Olives, cut in half
- 1/2 package Trader Joe’s OrganicSprouted Tofu, diced
- 6 Trader Joe’s Organic Cherry Tomatoes, quartered
- 2 T. Trader Joe’s Dry Toasted Pignolias
- 2 T. Trader Joe’s Pecorino & Romano Parmesan Cheese Blend
- Cook pasta according to package directions, and drain thoroughly.
- Mix hot pasta with the pesto sauce.
- Fold in the olives and tofu, and chill (covered tightly) for at least one hour…overnight’s even better.
- Garnish with tomatoes, cheese and pine nuts just before serving or packing to-go.
Have fun brainstorming your own pasta salad recipes with your littles. They make great meals for hot days at home or by the pool. If you’re heading out into the heat, just make sure that everything is well cooled before going into your lunch bag…and, don’t skimp on the ice packs!
You may be wondering how Scout did “point-wise” in the game. Here’s her tally…
- blackberries 5 pts
- blueberries 5 pts
- strawberries 5 pts
- lettuce 15 pts
- carrots 10 pts
- persian cucumbers 10 pts
- okra 15 pts
- kalamata olives 10 pts x 2 for being a new food for a total of 20 pts
- tomatoes 10 pts
- tofu 10 pts
- whole wheat pasta 5 pts
For a grand total of 110 points!
If you’d like to hear Jennifer’s take on kids and healthy eating habits, listen to the “Perspectives” radio spot that she recorded recently for NPR’s Northern California team. For those of you on FaceBook please make sure you “like” Crunch a Color for updates on the Challenge. I’ve seen a few of the other entries and they’re awesome! You’ll also be able to find info on the Challenge results on Crunch a Color’s website. That’s, also, the place for more information on Jennifer’s “Healthy Eating Game” that encourages diners of all ages to add colorful fruits and veg to the nutritious grains and proteins on their plates. And, be sure and take a look at her “Conversation Starters”. The questions range from fun (If you could have one superpower, which one would you choose?) to thoughtful (What makes someone kind?), and encourage us to slow down at dinnertime and engage each other. They make wonderful birthday gifts for kids or hostess gifts for families.
*I hope Scout knows how much I love her to share my pickled okra with her. My Mom hand-carried three jars of Beth Moore’s okra from the North Carolina Farmer’s Market out here last fall, and I’m on my last jar. (Mom, if you’re reading…please bring more next time you visit. And, some more spicy chow-chow, too, please!) If you don’t have someone in North Carolina who loves you as much as my Mama loves me, check your local farmer’s market and support your neighborhood canners. If that’s not an option, check your grocery for Talk o’ Texas brand…it’s very tasty.