Sometimes lunch just needs to be fun!
Nothing says that a healthy lunch has to be boring; it’s all in the presentation. A brown paper bag containing a sandwich in a baggie, an orange, a kiwi, and a granola bar isn’t very exciting. But those same foods, with a few cookie cutters and a bit of creative design makes for an awesome jungle lunch, one which my little guy could not wait to take to school and show his best friend.
We started the base of the lunch with the new Van’s Gluten-Free Cranberry Almond Snack Bars
. It made the perfect tree trunk for our jungle. Plus, every parent has to love a fun treat that is also healthy! I was excited to sample these new snack bars. They have 10 grams of whole grains and 4 grams of fiber. But the best part is that they taste amazing and have no artificial ingredients, no hydrogenated or GMO oils and no high fructose corn syrup. I peeled a Cutie orange and used the individual sections to lay out palm-tree like branches.
Every good jungle needs a few friendly animals, and sandwich presses are an easy option. A sandwich press is basically a hollow cookie cutter, with a printed design you can stamp on the bread. Alternatively, press and stamp cookie cutters can make a similar type design. If all else fails, regular shaped cookie cutters will give you the animal outlines without the faces.
When using sandwich presses/cookie cutters, it works much better to cut out both slices of bread first, stamp the top of one, then add the fillings. I cut two of each animal form, using honey wheat bread, then stamped one of each to get the imprint. I filled each with a bit of cheddar cheese and deli turkey, also cut with the same cutters, then tucked them beneath the tree for our little jungle scene.
Since the sandwich presses were about the equivalent of a half sandwich on normal bread, I added a sliced boiled egg for extra protein and some freshly sliced kiwi to complete the lunch. My son is on a kiwi kick lately, so I try to accommodate that wish.
How long did this take? Believe it or not, about 5 minutes longer than had I not decorated the lunch! Pretty lunches don’t have to be complicated or take hours in the kitchen. A couple of cookie cutters, a knife, and a bit of imagination and you can have a fun surprise lunch for your little one in less than 10 minutes.
Shannon Carino is the author of BentoLunch.net
, a five year and counting blog, featuring the adventures of feeding her children. She lives in Colorado with her husband and their two kids, now ages 10 and 7.