Ready your whisks, school is almost back in session. If you're looking for some brown paper bag inspiration this year for your child's lunch, here are two recipes to put in your arsenal, from a peanut butter-free sandwich to healthy chicken nuggets. Of course, these are more involved than slapping some cheese between two slices of white bread, but your kids will thank you.

 

 

 

THE HEALTHY CHICKEN NUGGET

 

Chicken nuggets and sweet potato batons

From Between the Bread founder Ricky Eisen

Forget fried — these chicken nuggets are baked for a tasty, bite-sized lunch. A side of simple julienned sweet potatoes makes for a nutritious snack.

 

Chicken nuggets:

Olive oil cooking spray

2 3/4 cups panko bread crumbs

Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 large egg whites

1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into nugget size

Set a wire rack on a baking sheet and coat with cooking spray. Add 2 tsp. salt and black pepper to the panko. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites and a pinch of salt until frothy.

Dip the chicken in the egg whites, then roll in the panko crumbs to coat. Place the chicken pieces on the rack (position them on their sides so that the majority of the crust is exposed) and mist with cooking spray.

Bake the chicken nuggets on the bottom oven rack until crisp and cooked through, about 20 minutes. Serve with ketchup.

 

Sweet potato batons:

Sweet potatoes

Olive oil

Salt

Honey (heated for easier spreading)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Peel and wash the sweet potato and cut into thin strips.

Place the batons into a mixing bowl, drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of salt.

Spray Pam on cookie sheets. Place the batons in the oven for 10 minutes, then flip and place back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

Once the batons are baked, remove them from the oven and glaze them with honey.

 

 

 

THE PEANUT BUTTER-FREE PB&J

 

Banana jam sandwich and carrot chips

From New York chef and TV personality Sam Talbot

If your school has a no-peanut-butter policy, you can still get that PB&J fix with this sandwich, comprised of homemade banana preserve and almond butter. Pair it with carrot chips, instead of potato chips, for a healthy snack.

 

Banana preserve:

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

3 1/2 cups bananas, ripe, mashed

2 cups coconut sugar

1/4 cup raw honey

1/2 cup apple cider

Combine all of the ingredients, except the mashed bananas, and cook until the sugar and honey dissolves (about 2 minutes).

Add the bananas and cook for about 45 minutes on medium heat, stirring constantly.

Once warm place the contents into a blender until smooth.

 

Almond butter:

2 cups unsalted roasted almonds

1/ 4 tsp. vanilla

1/3 cup dark chocolate shavings, at least 70% cocoa

2 tsp. coconut oil

2 tbsp. cocoa powder

2 tsp. maple syrup

1 tsp. Himalayan sea salt

Add almonds to food processor for 6-8 minutes. Continue to process until you reach the desired consistency.

Melt chocolate shavings and coconut oil in small saucepan over low heat. Stir consistently until completely melted and smooth.

Add the rest of the ingredients to almond butter and process again until smooth. Store at room temperature, always stir before applying

To assemble sandwich: Spread the preserve on one side and the almond butter on the other. Sprinkle with Himalayan sea salt.

 

Carrot chips:

1 large carrot, peeled

2 tsp. olive oil

Pinch of salt

Pinch of black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Peel the entire carrot with a peeler. Place carrot strips in large bowl. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Transfer strips to baking sheet in a single layer — don’t overlap.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until chips are just starting to brown. Cool on a rack about 5 minutes.

Carefully remove chips from baking sheet. Store in an airtight container.

 

 

 

THE ELEVATED HAM AND CHEESE

 

Apricot chutney ham and cheese with spiced caramel crust

From Food52

The little foodie in your house can appreciate this tasty sandwich, which features apricot preserves, goat cheese and nutritious sourdough bread.

 

Makes 4 sandwiches

1/2 cup apricot preserves

2 tbsp. cider vinegar

1 tsp. fresh grated ginger

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 tbsp. granulated sugar or sugar substitute

8 slices sourdough bread

6 tbsp. butter, divided

8 oz. goat cheese

12 slices deli-style ham (preferably maple glazed)

In a small bowl, mix the apricot preserves, vinegar and ginger. Set aside.

In another small bowl, mix together sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

Butter one side of each of the slices of bread. Spread goat cheese on the other side. Spread about 2 tbsp. of apricot chutney on top of the goat cheese and then fold three slices of ham on top.

Close up the sandwich. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mix over the outside of the sandwich.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Melt the remaining butter (about 1 tbsp. per sandwich) in the skillet. Working 2 sandwiches at a time, brown each one, about 3-5 minutes on each side, covering the pan in between flips. The outside should get golden brown and slightly gooey.

Repeat for remaining two sandwiches, keeping the first sandwiches warm in a toaster oven set on low.

To keep from getting soggy, wait until the sandwich is completely cooled off before packing.