Tortilla pinwheels: Lunches so tasty, kids won’t notice they’re healthy

Getting your kids to eat a healthy lunch can be a challenge. The federal government says that U.S. children aren’t eating enough fresh fruits and vegetables. And it can be all too easy for kids to ignore the produce that comes with their cafeteria or homemade lunches.

But there’s a secret to getting more fruits and veggies into your child’s diet — a secret that’s as tasty and fun to eat as it is nutritious: tortilla pinwheels.

In fact, tortilla pinwheel roll-up sandwiches may actually be the best thing since sliced bread. Pinwheels can be made with hundreds of combinations of fillings — including sliced fruits and veggies — then rolled up and sliced into small, inviting servings. They pack well and there’s no end to the kind you can make.

It’s best to use soft flour tortillas, as they won’t crack when rolled and packed. You can choose spinach or tomato tortillas for their green or red colors (fun for the holidays), but there’s really no added nutrition in them. However, if you pick whole-grain tortillas such as 100% whole-wheat or corn tortillas,, you can double or triple the amount of fiber over plain white flour ones.

Be sure each pinwheel has a protein and a vegetable or fruit. After that, just go to town with whatever condiments or other ingredients are kid favorites. The fillings tend to stay in place if you first spread the whole tortilla with something that everything can to stick to, like peanut butter, hummus, or cream cheese (whipped, light, or regular).

11 tortilla pinwheel recipe ideas

Here are a few of our favorites:

  1. Peanut butter, grape jelly, and sliced banana

  2. Turkey, thinly sliced cucumbers, and cranberry sauce

  3. Lean ham, tomato, fresh spinach, and cream cheese

  4. Egg salad, romaine or butter lettuce, and a dash of cumin

  5. Hummus with grated carrot, diced red and yellow peppers, and any fresh greens you like

  6. Tuna salad with chopped almonds and celery

  7. Leftover steak or chicken breast, cut into strips, with tomatoes and roasted peppers

  8. BLT: Make a spread of ½ mayonnaise and ½ cream cheese, and top with big lettuce leaves, tomato slices, and bacon strips

  9. Almond butter, apricot or strawberry jam, and sliced strawberries

  10. Avocado (spread on the tortilla), turkey or chicken slices, and roasted red pepper strips

  11. Softened brie cheese (pasteurized), turkey, and thin pear slices

Roll up the tortillas as snugly as you can, and wrap them in plastic to chill and set in the fridge — at least an hour. Then slice them into pinwheels about an inch thick, which you can re-wrap for the lunch box, or put into a small plastic container, so they’ll hold their shape. Just add a piece of fruit and small bag of nuts and you’re set. Your child will love the lunch, and be none the wiser that it’s healthy too.

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