08/19/2013 12:31 EDT | Updated 10/19/2013 05:12 EDT

For a change from sandwiches try Greek salad, potato patties for school lunch

EatRight Ontario dietitians have a website that is chock-full of free articles on food and nutrition, meal planning advice, healthy eating tips and recipes. Included is a recipe challenge that is designed to get kids into the kitchen and excited about healthy eating and being creative.

Here are two of the kid-friendly award-winning recipes from 2012-13.

Reena's Yummy Greek Salad

This recipe won first place in the kids recipe challenge. It is geared toward Grades 1 to 3.

Sabrina from Woodbridge, Ont., loves to help her mom make this salad. She enjoys the combination of sweet tomatoes and crunchy cucumbers. Fresh vegetables are always a great option for lunch. With the addition of crisp pita and feta cheese this makes a vibrant and refreshing option for kids.

To keep the vegetables crisp, pack separately from the pita chips and dressing. Use a reusable container or wide-mouth vacuum flask to keep the salad cold. A small ice pack will also keep the salad safe to eat till lunch time.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

2 whole-wheat pitas, cut into 8 wedges each

750 ml (3 cups) grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise

6 mini cucumbers, cut into 1-cm (1/2-inch) slices

250 ml (1 cup) crumbled light feta cheese


50 ml (1/4 cup) extra-virgin olive oil

30 ml (2 tbsp) red wine vinegar

3 cloves garlic, minced

5 ml (1 tsp) dried oregano leaves

Pinch each salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place pita wedges on baking sheet and bake in a 200 C (400 F) oven for about 5 minutes or until golden and crisp. Let cool.

Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, stir together grape tomatoes, cucumber and feta. Add toasted pita and drizzle with dressing. Toss to combine. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving for flavours to develop.

Makes 2 l (8 cups).

Nutrition information per 500-ml (2-cup) serving: 329 calories; 14 g protein; 21 g fat (dressing and cheese); 26 g carbohydrate; 5 g fibre; 543 mg sodium (pita and cheese).


Potato Patties

Michaella in Newmarket, Ont., earned second place. She loves that these patties have lots of veggies and taste like mashed potatoes but with loads of extra flavour.

The combination of potatoes and beans creates a great vegetarian lunch option that can be made ahead and then warmed up or enjoyed cold. Substitute Romano or Pecorino cheese for a new twist on taste.

Pack these in a reusable container. An insulated lunch bag with a small ice pack will keep foods cold.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 55 minutes

5 Yukon Gold potatoes (about 500 g/1 lb), peeled and cubed

1 can (540 ml/19 oz) white kidney beans, drained and rinsed

5 ml (1 tsp) canola oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 eggs

125 ml (1/2 cup) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

250 ml (1 cup) baby arugula, chopped

125 ml (1/2 cup) frozen peas, thawed

Pinch each salt and freshly ground black pepper

Hot pepper sauce (optional)

In a large pot, bring potatoes to boil and cook for about 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and return to pot. Add white beans and, using a potato masher, mash together.

Meanwhile, in a small non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium heat and cook onion and garlic for about 3 minutes or until softened and turning golden. Stir into potato mixture with eggs and cheese until smooth.

Add arugula, peas, salt and pepper and stir until evenly distributed. Using a 125-ml (1/2-cup) dry measure, scoop out mixture to form a patty. Place on parchment paper or greased baking sheet and repeat with remaining mixture.

Bake in a 180 C (350 F) oven for about 35 minutes or until light golden and firm to the touch.

Makes 10 patties

Nutrition information per 2-patty serving: 245 calories; 14 g protein, 7 g fat; 34 g carbohydrate; 8 g fibre; 440 mg sodium (from the Parmesan cheese and canned beans).

Source: Dietitians of Canada. These recipes are being used with permission from EatRight Ontario.