While many parents tell their children they love them as they leave for school, the message might've been forgotten by lunchtime.
What better way for a kid to see they are loved, than by finding their lunch full of hearts!
Step 1: Protein - Heart Shaped Boiled Egg
Using the cardboard from a rinsed milk carton, create a "canoe" shaped form/mold.
- Cut the milk carton in half lengthwise, so that a folded corner remains intact along with ~1.5" of the two adjacent sides.
- Using the creased corner, fold and loosely wrap a rubber band around each end of the waxed cardboard.
- Gently push each end of the waxed cardboard toward the center so it resembles a "canoe".
Set aside this "canoe" along with a bamboo skewer/chopstick, so that they are easily accessible
Peel the hard boiled egg and while it is still warm, place the egg in the seating section of the cardboard "canoe".
Starting from the outside of the "canoe", slip the bamboo skewer/chopstick under one rubber band, over the egg, then under the other rubber band. The bamboo skewer/chopstick should apply only slight pressure on to the warm hard boiled egg. (If pressure is too firm loosen the rubber bands, otherwise the cooked egg white may break apart.)
After about 10 minutes the pressure from the bamboo skewer/chopstick will form a slight but permanent indentation on the cooked egg. Remove egg from the "canoe" and cut the egg in half through the indentation (not along it), resulting in two heart shaped halves.
- If desired, place eggs on top of ranch dressing and/or spinach leaves to hold in place and provide more flavor.
Step 2: Vegetables - Assorted Heart Shaped Techniques
- Rinse and scrub carrot
- Using either a knife or peeler, trim the length of the carrot so a 90 degree angle/corner shape is created on one length of the carrot.
- On the opposite side of the carrot, notch a 90 degree angle into the carrot. Try to not cut beyond the center as shown in the second photo
- Finally slice the carrot as if you were cutting discs, resulting in heart shaped slices.
- Wash a large cucumber.
- Slice 1/4" rounds.
- Using a small heart-shaped cookie cutter, press through each round and separate the heart center from the green rind as seen in the center of the plate.
Tomato Hearts (for older/responsible kids)
- Rinse (elongated) grape tomatoes, remove stems
- Starting from the short side of the tomato, cut the tomato diagonally.
- Rotate one of the tomato halves, and then place it next to the other half so 2 cut sides are combined..
- Spears the combined halves with plastic party picks, making sure they are clearly visible (and will NOT be accidentally swallowed by young children).
- Using the green cucumber rind that is left over from the cucumber hearts (above), spear one side with a plastic party pick.
- Continue the spear into the tomato heart (above), and then exit out the other side of the cucumber rind.
Step 3: Bread/Grain - Mini Heart Sandwiches
Using two slices of bread (preferably one being whole wheat), trim off crusts
Lightly spread strawberry jelly on to the trimmed bread and then cut into thirds. (Microwaving the jelly makes it easier to spread)
Roll one end slightly toward the center, and repeat with the other end so that the two rolled ends meet.
Turn to it's side and press a light crease on the opposite side from where the two rolled ends meet, forming the bottom of the heart.
- Make 3 hearts from each slice of bread and place in a cupcake wrapper with jelly side exposed.
Step 4: Pretty + Balanced = Pretty Balanced!
By adding a carton of milk, this school lunch is nutritiously balanced and includes protein (hard boiled egg), vegetables (carrot, tomato, cucumber) and grains (white/whole wheat bread).
Also, since all ingredients are readily available it is a fun surprise for any occasion!