Tex-Mex Rice Cakes

Makes 14 to 16.

Note: Use leftover rice (make plenty ahead of time) and have this dish ready for dinner or lunch later. From "Weelicious Lunches," by Catherine McCord.

• 1 c. cooked brown rice

1/2 c. whole-wheat breadcrumbs

• 1/2 c. grated Cheddar cheese

• 3/4 c. frozen corn, defrosted

• 2 tbsp. chopped cilantro

• 1/2 tsp. salt

• 2 eggs

2 tbsp. vegetable or canola oil for cooking

For accompaniment: salsa, guacamole or sour cream


Combine brown rice, breadcrumbs, cheese, corn, cilantro and salt in a large bowl, and mix to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs.

Add the eggs to the rice mixture and thoroughly combine.

Shape about 1/4 cup of the mixture into a patty and set aside. Repeat with remainder of mixture.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add patties and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until golden brown.

To freeze: Shape mixture into patties, place on baking sheet and freeze for 30 minutes, then place in zip-top bag and freeze for up to 4 months. Thaw before cooking.

Nutrition information per each of 16:

Calories 65 Fat 4 g Sodium 107 mg

Carbs 6 g Sat fat 1 g Calcium 24 mg

Protein 2 g Cho 27 mg Dietary fiber 1 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: ½ bread/starch, 1 fat.

Chicken Teriyaki on a Stick

Makes 8 sticks.

Note: Use the craft sticks intended for ice pops (no sharp points). Soak the sticks in water before skewering or cover the exposed portion with foil to prevent the sticks from burning. From "Weelicious Lunches," by Catherine McCord.

• 1/3 c. soy sauce

• 3 tbsp. honey

• 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger

• 1 garlic clove, minced

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, each cut into 4 long strips

• 8 craft sticks


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

To make teriyaki sauce: In a medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce, honey, ginger and garlic.

Place chicken in a bowl (or airtight plastic bag for easy cleanup). Add half the teriyaki sauce, cover (or seal) and refrigerate for 20 minutes to overnight; discard the sauce used with the chicken.

Skewer each piece of chicken lengthwise on a craft stick, place on a greased baking sheet and bake for 14 minutes, or until golden.

Remove chicken from oven and set aside to cool slightly. Serve with remaining sauce for dipping. To serve later, refrigerate and pack with sauce in separate container for lunch.

Nutrition information per each stick:

Calories 56 Fat 1 g Sodium 395 mg

Carbs 5 g Sat fat 0 g Calcium 5 mg

Protein 7 g Chol 18 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: ½ other carb, 1 lean meat.

Penne with Tomatoes, Basil and Cubed Mozzarella

Serves 4.

Note: This can be made up to 24 hours in advance and refrigerated until ready to serve or pack for lunch. From "The Robin Takes 5 Cookbook for Busy Families," by Robin Miller.

1 lb. penne (small tubular pasta)

1 (14-oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained (regular or fire-roasted)

• 1/4 c. chopped fresh basil

• 1 tbsp. olive oil

• 1 tsp. dried oregano

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 oz. part-skim mozzarella or fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-in. cubes


Cook penne according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add tomatoes, basil, oil and oregano, and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

When pasta has cooled slightly, fold in the cheese. Serve or refrigerate until ready to serve or pack for lunch.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 712 Fat 18 g Sodium 955 mg

Carbohydrates 103 g Saturated fat 7 g Calcium 476 mg

Protein 34 g Cholesterol 31 mg Dietary fiber 7 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 2 vegetable, 6 bread/starch, 2 medium-fat meat, 1½ fat.

Hummus with a Twist

Makes about 2 cups.

From "Best Lunch Box Ever," by Katie Sullivan Morford.

• 1 small sweet potato

1 1/2 c. cooked chickpeas, drained

• 2 tbsp. tahini

• 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

• Juice of 1 lemon

• 1 small garlic clove

• 1/4 c. water, plus more if needed

• 1/2 tsp. ground cumin

• 1/2 tsp. salt

Chopped or sliced raw vegetables for dipping (such as bell peppers, fennel and carrots)


Preheat oven or toaster oven to 400 degrees. With tip of knife, pierce sweet potato a few times and put on a baking sheet. Bake until tender enough to mash with a fork, 40 to 45 minutes.

When cool enough to handle, peel skin off sweet potato with your hands. Put flesh of the sweet potato in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, water, cumin and salt, and process until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add more water if the hummus seems too thick. Process for a few seconds until blended.

Keep hummus refrigerated in a covered bowl or storage container. When ready to use, pack the dip and vegetables in separate containers.

Can be made up to 1 week ahead and stored in refrigerator or freezer. Taste and add lemon juice and/or olive oil to defrosted hummus, if needed.

Nutrition information per 1/4 cup:

Calories 112 Fat 6 g Sodium 160 mg

Carbohydrates 11 g Saturated fat 1 g Calcium 37 mg

Protein 4 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 3 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 2 vegetable, 1 fat.

Kiddie Cobb salad

Makes 2 salads.

Note: Adapt this to your child's tastes. From "Best Lunch Box Ever," by Katie Sullivan Morford.

2 c. chopped butter, red leaf or romaine lettuce

1/2 c. chopped tomato or 10 cherry tomatoes, halved

• 1/2 large ripe avocado, cubed

2 or 3 slices smoked turkey, coarsely chopped

2 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and chopped

2 tbsp. crumbled blue cheese (very optional)

• 1 tsp. soy sauce

• 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

• 4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil


Divide lettuce between 2 large containers. In each container, arrange half the tomato, avocado, turkey, eggs and blue cheese in rows on top of the lettuce.

To make dressing, divide soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and olive oil between 2 small containers. Put on the lids and shake well.

Salad and dressing can be made the night before and stored in the refrigerator, but wait until morning to cut and add the avocado (toss it in lemon juice before you pack it, to keep it from discoloring). Be sure to give your child instructions for drizzling the dressing over the salad at lunchtime.

Nutrition information per salad:

Calories 276 Fat 21 g Sodium 560 mg

Carbs 10 g Sat fat 4 g Calcium 61 mg

Protein 13 g Cho 200 mg Dietary fiber 3 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 2 vegetable, 1 medium-fat meat, 3 fat.

Sweet-and-Sour Chicken

Makes 4 main dishes with leftovers for lunch.

Note: From "Beating the Lunch Box Blues," by J.M. Hirsch.

• 1/2 c. flour

• 1 tsp. ground ginger

• 1 tsp. garlic powder

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

3 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-in. chunks

3 tbsp. canola or vegetable oil

• 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 (16-oz.) bag frozen mixed bell-pepper strips

• 2 c. shredded carrots

1 (20 oz.) can pineapple chunks in unsweetened juice

• 1/2 c. packed brown sugar

• 1/2 c. red wine vinegar

• 2 tbsp. cornstarch

• Cooked rice for serving


In large bowl, mix together flour, ginger, garlic powder and 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

Add chicken, then toss until lightly but completely coated. It should use all of the flour mixture.

In a large sauté pan over medium-high, heat the oil until it shimmers. Cover a wire rack with paper towels.

Working in two batches to avoid crowding the pan, add the chicken and fry for 4 minutes per side. Transfer to the rack and repeat with remaining chicken.

When all of the chicken is browned, increase heat to high and add the onion, peppers and carrots. Sauté for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the juice from the pineapple, the brown sugar, vinegar and cornstarch. Add to the pan and stir until thick, about 1 minute.

Add the chicken and pineapple chunks. Simmer for 2 minutes. Serve the chicken and sauce over rice.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories XX Fat XX g Sodium XXX mg

Carbohydrates XXX g Saturated fat XX g Calcium XX mg

Protein XX g Cholesterol XX mg Dietary fiber XX g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: xx milk, xx vegetable, xx fruit, xx bread/starch, xx other carb, xx lean meat, xx medium-fat meat, xx high-fat meat, xx fat.