Her Czechoslovakian heritage gave her the love of eastern European cuisine; her granny inspired her to learn to cook by tasting; and Loyola University Chicago’s Food & Nutrition Program gave her the official cred to start a successful career focused on revolutionizing thought about food and how it affects overall health. Vicki Shanta Retelny says you can put exciting, easy-to-prepare and healthy items in that lunchbox.
Chair, Member Services Advisory Committee of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Contributing Editor, Environmental Nutrition
Nutrition Writer, Chicago Health Magazine
The Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) known as The Lifestyle Nutritionist tells us that balance is key especially at lunch time because it boosts energy (ugh- that hideous afternoon post-lunch coma), productivity which will satisfy a teacher or student, and won’t leave kids ravenous yet again by 4 p.m. and reaching for a Snickers or Hot Pocket. It’s not a short list, either, so there’s something for all kinds of appetites.
“Choose lean proteins from seafood, chicken or turkey breast, lean red meat, nuts and seeds, as well as healthy carbohydrates from whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans and legumes. Plus a bit of good-for-you fat like avocado and olive oil, olives and seeds and nuts — yes, they offer healthy fats, too.” Retelny says,
Whole grain tortilla
Spread a tablespoon of your favorite nut butter — peanut, almond, soy nut, for example — on a six-inch whole grain tortilla.
Slice fruit, such as a strawberry, a quarter of a small banana, two slices of peach, and lay on top
Fold up the bottom and then the sides to wrap it tightly
For added nutrition, sprinkle with ground flax seed or cinnamon — or both.
“What could be better than cheesy broccoli with bread crumbs?” asks Retelny. (This is tasty with cauliflower, too).
Steam a cup of broccoli florets until bright green in a pot with water or microwave for one minute and remove from heat.
Toss broccoli with 2 teaspoons olive oil, a pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of bread crumbs (preferably whole grain).
Divide the mixture into two medium-size ramekins and cover each with ¼ cup of grated cheese, such as Cheddar, Mozzarella and Swiss.
Bake in a 350 degree oven until cheese is melted, about two to three minutes. Pack it up for lunch.
Retelny likes that this sandwich combines filling whole grain bread, good quality protein with heart-healthy, omega-3 fats from fish, which satisfies appetite longer and fuels the brain. Greek yogurt is another great protein source, plus curry adds is a combination of spices that are powerful players in cell health.
5 ounces wild salmon, can or pouch in water
2 Tablespoons scallions
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon plain low-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup baby greens
1 Brownberry Sandwich Thins® Roll*
In a small bowl, mix salmon, scallions, curry, mustard and yogurt. Lay the green over one slice of the sandwich, thin and dollop with the salmon mixture. Top with the other half and slice.
Can of tuna
Diced cucumber and carrots
Grated mozzarella cheese
Drain and mix a can of tuna packed in water with a drizzle of olive oil, yellow mustard, diced cucumbers and carrots. Spoon into a whole grain pita pocket and sprinkle with grated mozzarella cheese. Another option is to pack pita with shredded chicken or pork with a drizzle of barbecue sauce and diced pickles.
Whipped cream cheese
Spread whipped cream cheese on two mini whole grain bagels and top with a teaspoon of all-fruit spread. Slice into halves. For a savory option, spread with cream cheese and thinly sliced cucumber and top with a thin slice of turkey breast.
Tuna & Veggie Pitas
Mix a can of tuna packed in water (drained) with a drizzle of olive oil, yellow mustard, diced cucumbers and carrots. Spoon into a whole grain pita pocket and sprinkle with grated mozzarella cheese. Enjoy!
Another option: Fill pita with shredded chicken or pork with a drizzle of barbecue sauce and diced pickles.