Wellness For The Family: Back-to-School Rainbow Lunch Ideas

Some Northern Michigan students are already back in class this week.

Michelle Dunaway and Grace Derocha, a registered dietitian with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, are back with some healthy — and colorful — back to school lunch tips.

Red Quinoa and Bean Salad


  • ½ cup uncooked red quinoa (I like to use a tri-color blend, but any quinoa will do)
  • ¾ cup minced red onion (about ½ of a medium red onion)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt (if you only have table salt, you will need significantly less, so be careful!)
  • ¾ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 15-ounce organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed, optional to remove skin
  • 1 15-ounce can organic red kidney beans, drained and rinsed (dark or light)
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced  (about ½ inch pieces)
  • ¾ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup packed Italian parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped


  1. Place the quinoa and ¾ cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Let the quinoa rest, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
  2. While your quinoa is cooking, combine the minced red onion, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Let stand for 10 minutes, until the onions have softened slightly.
  3. Drain and rinse your beans. When it comes to the chickpeas, I like to remove their skins because I’m obsessive like that. To do this, place the drained chickpeas between two sheets of paper towel and rub lightly. This will loosen the skins, which you can then pick off and discard. (Yes, this is optional, but it’s not that hard, so you should probably just do it.)
  4. Place the beans, red peppers, dried cranberries in a large mixing bowl with the cooked quinoa, parsley and scallions. Add the red onion mixture and mix to combine. Taste and season with extra salt if necessary.
  5. Cover and refrigerate your quinoa bean salad for at least half an hour to let the flavors mingle. Serve cold or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Red Fruit Salad


  • Apples, cored and chopped
  • Strawberries, stems removed, halved or quartered
  • Cherries, pitted and halved
  • Pomegranates (optional)


  1. Mix all ingredients together. Serve and enjoy!

Caprese Spaghetti Squash Mac and Cheese

Inspired by Pop Sugar


  • 1 pound spaghetti squash
  • 1 summer squash, spiralized into noodles
  • 2 cups yellow grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 5 teaspoons whole-wheat panko
  • 1 3/4 cups 2% milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • ½ cup extra sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves


  1. Cook the spaghetti squash in the oven. Heat oven to 400 F. Slice squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Drizzle halves with the olive oil and season with salt. Place squash cut side down on baking sheet and roast until tender, 45-50 minutes. Use a fork to scrape out “spaghetti.
  2. Preheat broiler to high.
  3. Combine tomatoes and 2 teaspoons oil on a jellyroll pan. Broil 3 minutes or until tomatoes begin to break down.
  4. Combine spiralized summer squash with spaghetti squash.
  5. Heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add ­remaining 2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in flour. Add milk, salt, and black pepper, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a simmer; cook 1 minute or until thickened, stirring frequently. Remove pan from heat; stir in cheeses, but save about 3 tablespoons for later.
  6. Stir cheese mixture into the squash mixture then place in a small 2qt baking dish. Stir in tomato mixture and torn basil. Sprinkle remaining cheeses over spaghetti squash mixture. Broil 2 minutes or until the top is browned. Garnish with basil leaves, if desired. Enjoy!

Tzatziki Sauce with Feta and Green Veggies


1 English cucumber, de-seeded and finely chopped

2 (7-ounce) containers Greek yogurt (We use Fage)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 ½ tsp finely grated lemon zest

2 garlic clove, finely minced (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)

2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar (can substitute white wine vinegar)

3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste


  1. Scatter finely diced cucumber over a clean dishcloth (or paper towels). Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Let sit at least 10 minutes. Then gather up the corners of the dishcloth and squeeze as much liquid from grated cucumber as possible. Discard the liquid
  2. In a medium bowl, combine squeezed cucumber with yogurt, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, dill, apple cider vinegar, and the feta cheese. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt then taste and adjust as necessary with more salt.
  3. Cover dip and refrigerate 2 to 4 hours to develop flavor. Then dip with your favorite vegetables. Enjoy!

Veggies to Dip or Roll Up

  • Green Bell Pepper
  • Cucumbers
  • Sugarsnap Peas
  • Leafy Greens
  • Asparagus
  • Green Beans
  • Zucchini
  • Spinach Tortilla
Categories: Home, Wellness for the Family