Photos by Leigh Ann Chatagnier.

Nutritious and delicious lunch ideas for kids and adults alike

Leigh Ann Chatagnier is an expert on making healthy approachable for adults and for kids. Both her cookbook Natural Baby and Toddler Treats, as well as her blog and Instagram My Diary of Us are made up of recipes that are tried-and-true favorites of her and her young son. Creating meals that appeal to parents and children not only saves time, but teaches kids to expand their palates and not be afraid to try something new.

With the new school year debuting this week, now is as good a time as any to try something new. We reached out to Chatagnier for some of her go-to recipes that are great for children’s lunchboxes and parents’ plates alike. Check out the recipes below:


1/2 cup grape or cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup + 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup baby spinach
1 cup fresh basil
1 tsp. pine nuts (can omit for nut allergies)
1 clove garlic
1/8 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
4 English muffins
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup fresh bocconcini balls (mini mozzarella balls), strained from liquid on a paper towel to remove excess moisture
1/2 cup frozen or fresh peas


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice tomatoes thin, and place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tsp. olive oil and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until tomatoes caramelize slightly and release some of their liquid.
Make pesto by combining spinach, basil, pine nuts (if using), garlic, parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.
When tomatoes are done, slice English muffins in half and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes to toast slightly. Remove muffins from oven and top with pesto, shredded mozzarella cheese (about 2 Tsp. per muffin), tomatoes and bocconcini. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until cheese is melted. Top with peas for the last 2 minutes of cooking.
Serve immediately or store in refrigerator and/or freezer for easy lunchbox additions.


For skewers:
6 bocconcini (mini fresh mozzarella balls)
12 slices nitrate-free, organic turkey pepperonis or organic, nitrate-free salami
6 green or black pitted olives
1/2 cup pretzel sticks
Place bocconcini and olives on a paper towel to remove excess moisture. To assemble skewers, layer pepperonis, bocconcini and olives onto a pretzel stick. You can fit about 2 pepperonis, 1 olive and 1 cheese per pretzel stick.


For hummus:
1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, drained
1 Tbsp. tahini paste
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. everything bagel seasoning
1/2 Tbsp. black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Water if needed
Add chickpeas, tahini paste, lemon juice, everything bagel seasoning, pepper and olive oil to a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time if needed. Will keep in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.


1 cup roasted sweet potato (peeled)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/8 cup melted coconut oil
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. cacao powder
Pinch salt
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (can sub allergy-friendly chocolate chips)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together sweet potato, vanilla, egg and coconut sugar. With a stand mixer or handheld mixer, beat on high until smooth and creamy, then mix in coconut oil.
In another bowl, mix together whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cacao powder and salt. Slowly add dry ingredients into wet ingredients with mixer setting on low until just combined, then fold in chocolate chips.
Scoop out about 1 tablespoon of cookie dough at a time onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving 1 inch in between. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

See more of Chatagnier’s recipes in this article, this article and this article from the inRegister archives. And purchase her cookbooks here.