In Home Cooking for Your Health:
A-Plus Alphabet Soup

Back-to-school time … How can you be sure your kids aren’t throwing their lunches in the trash? You can’t go sit with them and make sure they eat. You can’t be a fly on the wall, though we all wish we could!

So, what’s the next best alternative? Give them they like! Make it fun! Sounds logical, right? But it may be easier said than done without sending Lunchables everyday.

First, let’s hope we’ve helped them develop some reasonable healthy eating habits. Of course, they won’t eat every healthy thing you ask of them, but maybe the kid who turns his nose up at a traditional sandwich will embrace some mixed nuts and yogurt or cheese sticks and cut-up veggies (check out the produce section for baby carrots and dip individually packaged for convenience).

For snacks, I love a couple of real Retro ideas from my own school days – cored, halved apples topped with peanut butter and raisins, granola or chopped nuts so they don’t stick to the baggie, and Ants on a Log – celery with cream cheese, wisespride or peanut butter, also topped with raisins, granola or chopped nuts.

Remember to think outside the box — or the bread — when it comes to offering your kids lunches they will love. That can mean replacing sliced bread with pita, wraps or bagels, or even adding whole wheat crackers or pita chips or tortilla chips into your childs’ lunchbox. You can also skip the sandwiches all together by sending in your very own easy, healthy hot lunches. Try this delicious soup for lunch or an after-school snack, and know that your kids are getting a little boost on their ABCs also.

A-Plus Alphabet Soup (from

2 cups chicken or vegetable broth 1½ cups water 8 ounce can tomato sauce 4 ounces alphabet pasta (try the whole-wheat or protein-packed versions) 1½ cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed 7¾ ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Add broth, water, and tomato sauce to a medium saucepan and stir to combine. Cover and bring to a boil. Add pasta, vegetables and chickpeas, and boil gently, uncovered, until pasta is done, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Pour into thermos to keep warm until lunchtime. Sprinkle with cheese.

Katie Habib of in home cooking Personal Chef Service ( prepares high-protein, low-fat meals for you to enjoy in your own home at the end of a long day.

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