Children across the country are heading back to school this month which means their parents are likely racking their brains (and combing through Pinterest) for lunchbox recipes and ideas. As a lunchbox-packing mom, I know how important it is to choose foods that my girls will actually eat. And, of course, as a registered dietitian, I value the importance of offering a variety of nutritious foods to boost growth, concentration and learning. That’s why I’m excited to be working with The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) and the Beef Checkoff to share this fun recipe for Cheesy Roast Beef Pinwheels to help parents “Beef Up the Lunchbox.”
While I can’t speak for all parents, I know I can speak for many when I say that as a mom, I strive to do what is best for my children. It’s hard though. And, let’s be honest, there is a lot of judgement and criticism that often makes me feel like I’m doing it all wrong.
Has this ever happened to you? You’re at the grocery store doing your weekly shopping and run into someone you know (or maybe you pass by a complete stranger). Immediately, you see their eyes scan your buggy and land on a taboo food. You know the ones I’m talking about….the non “clean,” non organic, “processed” foods that the social media world has pinged as bad. As you see the person’s eyebrows raise, you immediately question your food choices and feel judged. It’s the worst!
Listen, no one ever wants to feel that way which is why it is time to revisit the prejudices we have against certain foods. It’s time to give ourselves permission to enjoy the foods we love without feeling judged. You’ll see throughout my blog that I address nutritious but sometimes controversial foods like milk, 100% orange juice and canned foods. My family loves them and they’re good for us and I have no shame eating (or drinking) them. Let’s chat about another one today…deli meat and other prepared meats. Get excited because it is time to prepare yourself for the permission to enjoy them again!
Not as much as you think!
When I make Cheesy Roast Beef Pinwheels or Roast Beef Club Wraps and pack them in lunchboxes, I’m choosing to serve my family meat that has already been cooked, sliced, prepared and packaged. So instead of me purchasing , seasoning and cooking a large piece of raw meat in my home kitchen, I’m choosing to take the shortcut. What I buy has been prepared exactly as I would do it just at a much larger scale.
Though some parents may balk at the idea of “processed meat” (such as that purchased from a deli or in the deli section), it is has numerous nutrition benefits. In fact, prepared beef products are a convenient source of protein, vitamins and minerals (like iron, zinc and vitamin B12) that are growing children need – especially for healthy brain function at school.
I have confidence in prepared meats sold in the United States. That is because all ingredients used in preparation must be approved by the FDA and accepted by the USDA (they regulate and inspect meat and poultry products). Plus, the USDA regulates and inspects processed beef products before they are sold and have a continually improving safety record. They also require an ingredient list and nutrition facts label so I know exactly what my family is eating.
My family has the tendency to make a recipe one way once or twice and then start adding our own spin or “flavor” to it. That’s exactly what we’ve done with the pinwheels. In the images below, the top rectangle/roll is the 3-ingredient meat and cheese only version. The bottom rectangle/roll is a twist on a cheesesteak with honey mustard and diced bell peppers.
The pinwheels are easy to make and a fun way to involve your children in lunchbox preparation. Allow them to spread any type of special condiment like mustard, mayo, ranch or horseradish and then top with cheese, roast beef and, if desired, veggies. Then just roll up, slice and bake.
Not only are these good for lunchboxes but they’re the perfect hand-held food for an appetizer or a tailgate. You can eat them hot from the oven, room temperature or even cold. Best of all, you can make them ahead and freeze until you’re ready to eat. Be sure to check out how to freeze them in the recipe instructions below.
Try your own twist on these savory pinwheels:
One of the most clever and creative food ideas I’ve seen lately is ‘Beefshi.’ Beefshi features convenient beef products like pastrami, roast beef, corned beef, bologna, summer sausage and hot dogs prepared in rolls or handrolls with vegetables, rice and fun sauces. Some examples of Beefshi rolls include Beefy California Roll (pictured above), Reuben Roll, Taco Maki and Muffarolletta. You can see all 16 concepts here.
Want more info on prepared meats? Leave me a comment or question, I’m happy to help! Be sure to check out http://www.meatpoultrynutrition.org for more info on meat, prepared meats, diet and protein.
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Take lunchbox packing to the next level with savory Cheesy Roast Beef Pinwheels. Rolled in crescent dough, cut into spirals and baked, they’re a tasty twist on the traditional roast beef sandwich.
Makes 8-12 Pinwheels
Fully bake pinwheels and allow to cool completely. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze. Once frozen, transfer to an airtight container and store in the freezer. For best results, reheat on a baking sheet at 375 degrees F until warmed through.
Philly Cheesesteak Pinwheels: Add the optional ingredients listed above to the pinwheels to create a fun twist on the classic Philly cheesesteak.