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Fit for a Kid

Making the same lunch every day is almost as boring as eating it. But before you throw cuation to the wind (and your child throws a "gourmet" lunch in the trash), consider changing the look of his lunch without changing its well-loved ingredients. Here we present creative ways to slice, roll, stack, and pack meals no child could resist.

These flaky pastries are so mild tasting that your kids won't mind the green stuff.

Prep time: 25 minutes.
Bake time: 20 minutes.
Yield: 6 turnovers.

1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup chopped cooked spinach, squeezed dry
2 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. Italian-her seasoning
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 package (15 oz.) refrigerated piecrusts
1 egg, beaten

  1. Heat oven to 400°F. In medium bowl mix ricotta cheese, spinach, Parmesan cheese, Italian-herb seasoning and salt.
  2. Lightly roll out piecrust on floured surface (reserve second crust for another recipe). Cut out four 4 1/2" circles. Reroll scraps and cut out two more circles. Place 2 rounded tablespoons of filling on one half of each circle, leaving a 3/4" border. Brush edges with egg and fold over to make a half-moon shape. Crimp edges with tines of a fork to seal.
  3. Brush tops of pastries with egg, then make 3 vents for steam. Transfer to baking sheet. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.

Nutrition per turnover: 216 cal.; 6 g pro.; 13 g fat; 19 g carb.; 348 mg sod.; 52 mg chol.

How to Choose a Lunchbox
How to Choose a Lunchbox

These cripsy drumsticks can be made in advance and frozen.

Total prep and cook time: 40 minutes.
Yield: 8 or 9 drumsticks.

2 1/2 cups cornflake cereal
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
2 lb. chicken drumsticks, skin removed
1 egg, beaten

  1. Heat oven to 400°F. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and grease with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In bowl of food processor fitted with metal blade, process cereal until crumbs are formed. Add flour, salt, and poultry seasoning and pulse a few times to combine. Transfer crumb mixture to large resealable plastic bag.
  3. Dip drumsticks in egg, letting excess drip back into bowl. Place in bag with crumbs, two at a time, and shake until evenly coated. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Spray drumsticks lightly with non-stick cooking spray.
  4. Bake 30 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. Juices should be clear.
  5. To freeze: When completely cooled, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and then foil. Freeze up to 2 months. Place in refrigerator the night before serving.

Nutrition per drumsticks: 130 cal.; 15 g pro.; 3 g fat; 10 g carb.; 425 mg sod.; 74 mg chol.

Since kids love to play with their food, have your child fit the pieces together before he eats.

Prep time: 5 minutes.
Yield: 1 sandwich.

1 slice whole-wheat bread
1 slice white bread
Soft filling for 1 sandwich (e.g., tuna or egg salad, peanut butter, or cream cheese and jelly)

  1. Stack bread slices. With small sharp serrated knife, cut 2 interlocking shapes vertically through both bread slices. Reverse position of bread on one side, creating a two-tone pattern.
  2. Remove top-bread pieces, carefully spread bottoms with filling. Replace top halves. Pack puzzle pieces in a small plastic sandwich bag.

Nutrition per sandwich: 232 cal.; 13 g pro.; 7 g fat; 30 g carb.; 490 mg sod.; 7 mg chol.

This tri-colored sandwich is guaranteed to stop traffic in the cafeteria.

Prep time: 5 minutes.
Yield: 1 sandwich.

2 slices whole wheat or white bread
Mayonnaise or mustard
2 to 3 slices turkey, ham, or favorite luncheon meat
1 slice American cheese
1/4" piece of green bell pepper
1 cherry tomato, halved

  1. Stack bread slices and cut in half. Remove top slices and make 3 vertical holes in each one using a 3/4" round cutter. Spread bottom halves with mayonnaise or mustard; top with a folded slice of turkey. Place cutout bread slices over turkey.
  2. With same cutter, cut out two cheese circles and two bell-pepper circles; tuck these along with tomat halves into bread holes, pushing down to keep in place.

Nutrition per serving: 244 cal.; 12 g pro.; 12 g fat; 22 g carb.; 847 mg sod.; 29 mg chol.

A handful of fun.

Prep time: 10 minutes.
Yield: 4 rolls.

4 slices white bread, trimmed, or 2 whole-wheat pita breads, split horizontally
1 can (6 oz.) tuna, drained
2 Tbs. low-fat mayonnaise
8 think carrot sitcks, cut the same length as bread
8 think zucchini or cucumber sticks, cut the same length as bread

  1. Use rolling pin to flatten bread. Mix tuna and mayonnaise together in small bowl. Divide tuna mixtures evenely down centers of bread slices. Lay 2 carrot and 2 zucchini stikcs over tuna. Tightly roll up each bread (tuna mixture will keep rolls together). Serve in long rolls or cut into 3 or 4 pieces.

Nutrition per roll: 131 cal.; 13 g pro.; 2 g fat; 15 g carb.; 332 mg sod.; 16 mg chol.

Kids' favorite cheese gets all wrapped up.

Prep time: 10 minutes.
Yield: 4 rolls.

4 slices white bread, trimmed, or 2 whole-wheat pita breads, split horizontally
4 slices ham, bologna, or salami
Mustard or ketchup
2 string cheeses, cut in half lengthwise

  1. Use rolling plan to flatten bread. Lay a piece of ham over bread. Spread with mustard. Lay a piece of string cheese in center and roll up tightly (trim ends if you wish). Wrap snugly in plastic wrap to keep shape until lunchtime.

Nutrition per roll: 156 cal.; 11 g pro.; 7 g fat; 12 g carb.; 661 mg sod.; 24 mg chol.

Copyright © 1997. Reprinted with permission from the September 1997 issue of Parents magazine.