Wrap Up a Quick Lunch for the Whole Family
Tortilla shells can quickly and easily can be transformed into something for nearly every member of the family. Try to stick with corn or whole-wheat tortillas when possible. They’re a bit more nutritious.
Here are a few favorite ways to put them to work at lunchtime:
Quesadillas. From something as simple as just cheese to an adventurous combo of seasoned chicken or beef, spicy salsa, frozen or canned fire-roasted corn, beans, onions and peppers –nothing beats a meal that’s easy to adjust for even the pickiest members of the family. You can top them off with some shredded lettuce and tomatoes and have a well-balanced meal.
If you’re really looking for something out-of-the-box, try a barbecue mushroom quesadilla. Just combine a half-cup of your favorite barbecue sauce with one tablespoon each of tomato paste and cider vinegar. Add a quarter-teaspoon of ground chipotle pepper, or a single chipotle pepper in adobo sauce and that part is done.
Then cook one pound of diced Portobello mushroom caps (with the gills removed) in a frying pan with a finely diced onion and a little canola oil. Once the mushrooms are tender, add that sauce you made to the pan, and then divide your filling between four whole-wheat tortillas, top with some Monterrey Jack cheese, fold the filled tortillas in half and cook over medium heat.
Pair this with coleslaw to make it a great meal.
Flat-bread pizzas. The whole family can help make these! Simply lay out the toppings like pizza (or marinara) sauce, cheese, meats, vegetables and more. Everyone can load up their personal pizzas on a sheet pan and bake in the broiler until the toppings are melted.
If I’m only making a couple, I will cook them in a frying pan because I can get the tortilla shell a little crispier. For whole-family groups, the oven is much more efficient.
Tostadas. These treats are much better received as “taco pizza” at our house. Top your tortillas with some refried beans, seasoned with hot sauce or dried taco seasoning and a little cheese. Heat in the oven or frying pan until the cheese is melted. With salsa, lettuce, tomato, black olives, avocado or whatever you want as toppings, these are versatile and easy. Corn tortillas work great for these.
Peanut butter and banana roll-ups. I don’t personally partake in this one, but their name is the recipe: just take peanut butter, spread it on a tortilla then wrap it around a banana. I can throw one on a plate with some carrot sticks and a glass of milk and feel I’ve served a well-balanced meal to my kids. It doesn’t get quicker or easier than that!
Pinwheel sandwiches. If I offered my toddler a turkey sandwich, she would wrinkle her nose and say no thank you. If I take all the same toppings and roll them up in a tortilla, offering her a turkey pinwheel, it’s completely acceptable.
Sometimes it is all about presentation, so you can stick with traditional sandwich toppings or you can get creative. Flavored cream cheeses and finely diced vegetables, sweet flavored cream cheese and finely diced fruits, or pizza toppings – whatever your heart desires.
I like to keep mine pretty healthy by putting about two tablespoons of pesto on a whole-wheat tortilla. Fill them with a half-cup of cherry tomatoes, about four ounces of shaved turkey breast, a heaping handful of baby spinach and some provolone cheese and you’re set. Trying warming them in a damp towel if they are cracking instead of rolling nicely.
Burritos. I’m not talking about the labor-intensive kind with rice, beans, seasoned meat, all topped with a messy sauce. I am thinking quick, easy and portable breakfast burritos. Saute some onion, peppers or spinach. Scramble up some eggs. Then throw it all together in a tortilla with a little Tabasco sauce and cheese. Pair that with a clementine or two and you should be all set until dinner!
Lauren Cornay, RD, LN, is a registered dietitian at Avera Heart Hospital.