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Two great back to school lunch recipes that use the same base ingredients – Asian quinoa salad and rainbow veggie pinwheels.
Where has the summer gone? It feels like June was just yesterday and now we’re all gearing up for school to start. Along with the new school year comes the need for healthy and easy back-to-school lunch options. Today I’ve got not one, but two lunch options for you – rainbow veggie pinwheels geared towards the kids and Asian quinoa salad for the adults. The best part is that the same veggies are used in both recipes, which means that you only have to do food prep once and you can get two completely different meals out of it!
My twins were so excited to bring lunch to camp at their preschool this summer. It was their first experience with a packed lunch and my first time coming up with creative lunch ideas that were portable but also healthy. That being said, no adult wants a boring lunch either which is why I’m also giving you a recipe that is perfect to take with you to work or enjoy at home. I do a lot of shopping at Smart & Final, aside from the great prices I’m also a big fan of their all-natural Sun Harvest line which includes everything from organic produce to natural cleaning products. I stopped at the meat, produce and grain aisles to pick up everything I needed for these recipes.
Let’s talk about the rainbow veggie pinwheels first. I took a large tortilla, added a layer of homemade ranch spread and then layered on a rainbow of Sun Harvest veggies and some cooked shredded Sun Harvest chicken breast. You can omit the chicken for a vegetarian option.
Pretty right? You want to keep the veggie layers thin so that the pinwheels will hold together. The tortilla gets rolled up tightly and then sliced into pinwheels. My girls were thrilled with these, one of them said they reminded her of a veggie sushi! I used my homemade ranch dip powder for the spread but store bought ranch powder will work fine too. It works best to cut the vegetables into long strips; if you cut them small they’ll be more likely to fall out of the pinwheels.
After you’ve finished making these rainbow veggie pinwheels for the kids you can use the same vegetables to make an amazingly delicious Asian quinoa salad. The rainbow veggies, along with some shelled edamame and cucumber, get tossed with cooked Sun Harvest quinoa and an Asian style sesame lime sauce. Chopped herbs, sesame seeds and cashews finish off the salad. If you’d like an extra boost of protein you can cook extra chicken when you make the pinwheels and add some of that chicken into the quinoa too.
This salad can be made a day in advance which means it’s the perfect pack and go option for busy mornings when you’re struggling to get everyone out of the house on time. You can also serve the quinoa and the rainbow veggie pinwheels together for a restaurant quality lunch!
I’ve included a video that shows you just how simple it is to make the rainbow veggie pinwheels. Enjoy!
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Rainbow Veggie Pinwheels
- 4 large tortillas
- 2/3 cup whipped cream cheese (can use light)
- 1 tablespoon dry ranch powder (you can also use store bought)
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper strips
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced carrot strips
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced yellow bell pepper strips
- 1/2 cup baby spinach leaves
- 1/2 cup shredded purple cabbage
- 1 cup cooked shredded chicken (optional)
- Mix together the cream cheese and ranch powder until thoroughly combined.
- Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the 4 tortillas.
- Leaving a 1 inch border on all sides, lay out 2 tablespoons of each vegetable in rows across the tortillas; top with shredded chicken.
- Roll up each tortilla tightly; if the ends don't stay shut you can add a bit more cream cheese to seal. Cut crosswise into pinwheels and serve.
Make Ahead: The pinwheels can be made the day before you plan to serve them.
Little Helpers: The kids can actually make these themselves with your supervision, just give them a spoon or spatula to spread the cream cheese instead of a knife.
Asian Quinoa Salad
- 1 cup uncooked Sun Harvest quinoa
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced cucumber
- 1/2 cup shredded purple cabbage
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 1/2 cup shredded carrots
- 1/2 cup chopped red and/or yellow bell peppers
- 1/2 cup shelled edamame
- 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup cashews
- salt to taste
- For the dressing:
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- Cook the quinoa according to package instructions. When cooked, stir in 1 teaspoon of salt and cool for 10 minutes. Place the quinoa in a large bowl and add all the vegetables, herbs, sesame seeds and cashews.
- In a small bowl whisk together the dressing ingredients. Pour the dressing over the quinoa mixture and toss to coat evenly. Add salt to taste if desired and serve.
Make Ahead: The dressing can be made 2 days in advance, the entire salad can be made a day in advance.