On Your Table: Easy grab-n’ go foods for kids

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By Cathy Branciaroli, Food Correspondent, The Times

Nutritious, individual portioned ham and egg “muffins” are easy to prepare ahead of time and just perfect for grab-n-go meals or snacks.

Nutritious, individual portioned ham and egg “muffins” are easy to prepare ahead of time and just perfect for grab-n-go meals or snacks.

Now that the kids are back to school, packing an appetizing, healthy meal for them is an easy way to improve their day, even if they don’t feel quite so enthusiastic about the early mornings and hectic pace of a new school year. A healthy morning meal kicks up the metabolism and generally makes them feel much better all day. A good breakfast or snack packed for on-the-go helps prevent hunger pains and improves concentration in the class room too.

And these foods can be prepared ahead of time, so there is no need to rush while trying to get the kids ready to catch the school bus.  It’s easy to pre-make a dozen or so individual food portions and freeze them so they can be prepared at the last minute in the microwave and popped into a school lunchbox. Plus individual portions win out every time with kids versus sandwiches or other heavy food. So get out the muffin tin and bake individual sized servings or cut favorite fruits like an apple into tiny chunks wrapped up in a sandwich bag.

Another way you can upgrade your child’s lunch is by swapping out traditional, less nutritious lunchbox items for healthy goodies that taste better and give your kids an advantage with their focus and energy. Here are some thought starters about doing that:

Try a pita or a wrap instead of a sandwich for grab-and-go convenience. These can be divided into bite-sized portions and provide nutrition if made with lean proteins like roasted turkey, chicken or beef instead of the added sugar, gluten, or preservatives of deli meats which also contain preservatives like nitrates.

Pack a snack bag with nuts like roasted slivered almonds and pumpkin seeds for healthier snacks. These provide crunch which kids crave along with nutrients, fiber and proteins. Let the kids help choose so they feel excited about the mix.

Forego juice boxes for fruit-flavored water. No matter how healthy that fruit juice claims to be, it’s still loaded with fructose that’s guaranteed to tank your child’s energy. Instead of juice, pack a few slices of your child’s favorite fruit in a bottle of filtered water.

It’s not hard to see how giving your child the gift of good nutrition can have a major impact on their school day and it’s so easy. Here’s one way to do that.

Ham and Egg “Muffins”

Quantities below are for 8 muffins, but proportions can be increased or decreased depending on quantity needed.

Ingredients:

8 ham slices cut to fit muffin tins

8 eggs lightly beaten with ½ cup milk added

½ cup grated or shredded cheese of your choice, like mozzarella or cheese blend

¼ cup sliced or chopped mushrooms

¼ cup finely diced onions

Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, spray muffin tin with non-stick spray. Gently press ham slices into the tins so they are pressed into the bottoms and ruffled on the top edges. Sprinkle cheese, onions and mushrooms into the bottoms. In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs with milk and seasoning. Divide the egg mixture among the muffin tins. Add just a sprinkle of cheese on top of each tin. Bake ~18 minutes until golden brown on top. Cool in the muffin tins and then remove. Serve warm, pack at room temperature or freeze.

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