Packing Healthy Summer Camp Lunches

Parents across the country let out a huge sigh of relief as they packed the final lunches of the school year. Even as a chef, making school lunches is one of my most dreaded tasks. Making healthy school lunches can often be even more of a task. And then you realize that summer camp starts.

Some summer camps, like ours, include lunch, but that doesn’t mean that what they are offering will be a healthy option. And, if by chance, the menu is a good one, you still need to pack a full lunch box of healthy energy filled snacks. I pack 20 summer camp snacks/lunches a week (4 kids x 5 days). Here are few tips to help get through the process:

• Consider upping the amount of food you pack, especially if your child is extremely active.
• Pack lots of non-sugary liquids so your little one stays well hydrated.
• Piggy back off of your dinner menu to use leftovers.
• Pack whole fruits you don’t need to prepare.
• Use the pre-cut carrot or celery sticks (yes my kids eat those).
• Add trail mixes or nuts.
• Include antibacterial gel (I’ve never seen my kids come home so dirty!)

Trail Mix
• 2 cups unsalted, unbuttered, air-popped popcorn
• 2 cups mini-pretzels
• 1 cup dried cranberries
• 1 cup shelled unsalted pistachios
• 1 cup slivered almonds
• 1 cup dried papaya or mango
• 1 cup whole-grain Cheerios

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and place in sealable bags or plastic cups with lids.

Calories 150, Fat 9g, Saturated fat 2g, Monounsaturated fat 4g, Sodium 5mg, Potassium 150mg, Carbohydrates 13g, Fiber 2g, Sugars 11g, Protein 4g.

Grilled Chicken Finger and Strawberry-Grape Shaker
• 1 1/2 cups chopped strawberries
• 1/2 cup picked grapes
• 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves
• 2 limes juice
• 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 2 (6-ounce) chicken breast, grilled or baked, cut into strips

• Combine strawberries, grapes, cilantro, lime juice, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl; toss to combine.
• Divide chicken among 4 containers, and spoon strawberry grape mixture evenly over each serving.
• Shake before serving.

Calories 211, Fat 4.3g, Saturated fat 1g, Monounsaturated fat 5.2g, Polyunsaturated fat 1.3g, Protein 25g, Carbohydrates 7g, Fiber 3g, Cholesterol 33mg, Sodium 294mg.

Chef Richard Plasencia, executive chef at South Miami Hospital, joined Baptist Health South Florida in 2011 for the opening of West Kendall Baptist Hospital. He is an award-winning chef who is passionate about creating and sharing fresh local and seasonal recipes seasoned with flavor and good health. In addition to an interest in nutrition, Chef Richard has an extensive history in the hospitality industry.

He served as Chef at Town Kitchen & Bar, Jake’s, the Hyatt Regency Coral Gables, the Shore Club, Por Fin, and the Conrad Hotel. He also was part of several teams that received the Mobile 4 and 5 star awards, as well as Cioppino being named to America’s Top 50 restaurants by Esquire Magazine 2005, during his time at the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne. Chef Richard Plasencia graduated from Johnson & Wales University with a Bachelor of Science in culinary arts.

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